Home > Journals > Minerva Cardioangiologica > Past Issues > Minerva Cardioangiologica 2002 December;50(6) > Minerva Cardioangiologica 2002 December;50(6):569-606



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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2002 December;50(6):569-606


language: English

Ischemic preconditioning. Experimental facts and clinical perspective

Post H., Heusch G.


Brief periods of non-lethal ischemia and reperfusion render the myocardium more resistant to subsequent ischemia. This adaption occurs in a biphasic pattern: the first being active immediately and lasting for 2-3 hrs (early preconditioning), the second starting at 24 hrs until 72 hrs after the initial ischemia (delayed preconditioning) and requiring genomic activation with de novo protein synthesis. Early preconditioning is more potent than delayed preconditioning in reducing infarct size; delayed preconditioning also attenuates myocardial stunning. Early preconditioning depends on the ischemia-induced release of adenosine and opioids and, to a lesser degree, also bradykinin and prostaglandins. These molecules activate G-protein coupled receptors, initiate the activation of KATP channels and generation of oxygen radicals, and stimulate a series of protein kinases with essential roles for protein kinase C, tyrosine kinases and members of the MAP kinase family. Delayed preconditioning is triggered by a similar sequence of events, but in addition essentially depends on eNOS-derived NO. Both early and pharmacological preconditioning can be pharmacologically mimicked by exogenous adenosine, opioids, NO and activators of protein kinase C. Newly synthetized proteins associated with delayed preconditioning comprise iNOS, COX-2, manganese superoxide dismutase and possibly heat shock proteins. The final mechanism of protection by preconditioning is yet unknown; energy metabolism, KATP channels, the sodium-proton exchanger, stabilisation of the cytoskeleton and volume regulation will be discussed. For ethical reasons, evidence for ischemic preconditioning in humans is hard to provide. Clinical findings that parallel experimental ischemic preconditioning are reduced ST-segment elevation and pain during repetitive PTCA or exercise tests, a better prognosis of patients in whom myocardial infarction was preceded by angina, and reduced serum markers of myocardial necrosis after preconditioning protocols during cardiac surgery with cardiac arrest. The most promising approach to apply principles of ischemic preconditioning therapeutically appears to be the pharmacological recruitment of delayed protection, as recently demonstrated with intravenous nitroglycerine in patients undergoing PTCA 24 hrs later.

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