Differential Effects of Anesthetics and Opioid Receptor Activation on Cardioprotection Elicited by Reactive Oxygen Species–Mediated Postconditioning in Sprague-Dawley Rat Hearts

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Despite an array of cardioprotective interventions identified in preclinical models of ischemia–reperfusion (IR) injury, successful clinical translation has not been achieved. This study investigated whether drugs routinely used in clinical anesthesia influence cardioprotective effectiveness by reducing effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS), upstream triggers of cardioprotective signaling. Effects of propofol, sevoflurane, or remifentanil were compared on postischemic functional recovery induced by ROS-mediated postconditioning with Intralipid.


Recovery of left ventricular (LV) work, an index of IR injury, was measured in isolated Sprague-Dawley rat hearts subjected to global ischemia (20 minutes) and reperfusion (30 minutes). Hearts were either untreated or were treated with postconditioning with Intralipid (1%, throughout reperfusion). Propofol (10 μM), sevoflurane (2 vol%), remifentanil (3 nM), or combinations thereof were administered peri-ischemically (before and during IR). The effects of anesthetics on ROS production were measured in LV cardiac fibers by Amplex Red assay under phosphorylating and nonphosphorylating conditions.


Recovery of LV work (expressed as percentage of the preischemic value ± standard deviation) in untreated hearts was poor (20% ± 7%) and was improved by Intralipid postconditioning (58% ± 8%, P = .001). In the absence of Intralipid postconditioning, recovery of LV work was enhanced by propofol (28% ± 9%, P = .049), sevoflurane (49% ± 5%, P < .001), and remifentanil (51% ± 6%, P < .001). The benefit of Intralipid postconditioning was abolished by propofol (33% ± 10%, P < .001), but enhanced by sevoflurane (80% ± 7%, P < .001) or remifentanil (80% ± 9%, P < .001). ROS signaling in LV fibers was abolished by propofol, but unaffected by sevoflurane or remifentanil. We conclude that propofol abolishes ROS-mediated Intralipid postconditioning by acting as a ROS scavenger. Sevoflurane and remifentanil are protective per se and provide additive cardioprotection to ROS-mediated cardioprotection.


These divergent effects of routinely used drugs in clinical anesthesia may influence the translatability of cardioprotective therapies such as Intralipid postconditioning.

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