Volume 51: 109-119, 2002

Preconditioning Modulates Susceptibility to Ischemia-Induced Arrhythmias in the Rat Heart: The Role of a-Adrenergic Stimulation and K(ATP) Channels


Institute for Heart Research, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Received May 17, 2001
Accepted July 27, 2001

A new concept of cardioprotection based on the exploitation of endogenous mechanisms is known as ischemic preconditioning (IPC). It has been hypothesized that substances released during brief ischemic stress (e.g. catecholamines) stimulate the receptors and trigger multiple cell signaling cascades. Opening of ATP-sensitive K+ channels [K(ATP)] has been suggested as a possible final step in the mechanisms of protection. In this study, the role of adrenergic activation was tested in Langendorff-perfused rat hearts subjected to test ischemia (TI; 30 min occlusion of LAD coronary artery) by: 1) mimicking IPC (5 min ischemia, 10 min reperfusion) with short-term (5 min) administration of norepinephrine (NE, 1 µM), 15 min prior to TI; 2) blockade with b- or a1-receptor antagonists, propranolol (10 µM) and prazosin (2 µM), respectively, applied 15 min prior to TI during IPC. The role of K(ATP) opening was examined by perfusion with a K(ATP) blocker glibenclamide (10 mM) during IPC. Both IPC and NE-induced PC effectively reduced the incidence of ventricular tachycardia (VT) to 33 % and 37 %, respectively, vs 100 % in the non-PC controls, whereby ventricular fibrillation (VF) was totally abolished by IPC and markedly suppressed by PC with NE (0 % and 10 %, respectively, vs 70 % in the non-PC hearts; P<0.05). The severity of arrhythmias (arrhythmia score, AS) was also markedly attenuated by both interventions (IPC: AS 1.7±0.4; NE-PC: AS 1.8±0.3 vs AS 4.1±0.2 in the controls; P<0.05). Protection was not suppressed by propranolol (VT 28 %; VF 14 %; AS 2.2±0.6), whereas prazosin reversed the protective effect of PC (VT 83 %; VF 67 %; AS 4.0±0.8). Antiarrhythmic protection afforded by NE-PC was abolished by pretreatment of rats with pertussis toxin (25 mg/kg, i.p.) given 48 h prior to the experiments. Glibenclamide did not suppress the IPC-induced protection. In conclusion, the sensitivity of the rat heart to ischemic arrhythmias can be modulated by IPC. Protection is mediated via stimulation of a1-adrenergic receptors coupled with Gi-proteins but glibenclamide-sensitive K(ATP) channels do not appear to be involved in the mechanisms of antiarrhythmic protection in this model.

Key words
Ischemic preconditioning · Arrhythmias · Adrenergic stimulation · K(ATP) channels

Reprint requests
Dr. T. Ravingerová, Institute for Heart Research, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 842 33 Bratislava, Slovak Republic. Phone: 421 7 5477 4405. Fax: 421 7 5477 6637. E-mail:

© 2002 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences

ISSN 0862 - 8408

Issue 2