Alcohol attenuates myocardial ischemic injury

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Moderate alcohol consumption is cardioprotective but the mechanism of action remains unclear. Nuclear factor κ-B regulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation, stress, and apoptosis. We used a swine model of diet-induced metabolic syndrome to investigate the effects of red wine and vodka on nuclear factor κ-B signaling and cytokine activity in chronically ischemic myocardium.


Yorkshire swine were given a high-fat diet for 4 weeks; an ameroid constrictor was then placed on the left circumflex artery. The high-fat diet was continued and the swine were divided into 3 groups for 7 weeks: hypercholesterolemic diet alone (control, n = 8), hypercholesterolemic diet with vodka (vodka, n = 8), and hypercholesterolemic diet with wine (wine, n = 8). Ischemic myocardium was analyzed by Western blot and cytokine array.


Administration of alcohol was associated with decreased expression of inhibitor of κ-B kinase complex α, inhibitor of κ-B kinase complex β, and phosphorylated inhibitor of κ-B β in the ischemic myocardium compared with the control group. Alcohol administration demonstrated an increase in nuclear factor κ-B in the ischemic myocardium. Both wine and vodka demonstrated a significant decrease in leptin, interleukin-1α, IL-13, IL-15, and interferon-γ. Vodka demonstrated a significant decrease in phosphorylated BCL-2 and caspase-9.


In ischemic myocardium, alcohol modulates the nuclear factor κ-B pathway, which may contribute to the adaptive response of tissues to the stress of ischemia. Furthermore, both wine and vodka decreased multiple proinflammatory cytokines. This study provides a mechanism by which alcohol may be cardioprotective in ischemic myocardium.

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