Mechanisms of Cardioprotective Effects of Propranolol Against Reperfusion Injury

  • Bruce Kowaluk
  • Neelam Khaper
  • Claudio Rigatto
  • Vince Palace
  • Pawan K. Singal
Part of the Progress in Experimental Cardiology book series (PREC, volume 1)


Oxygen-derived free radicals are known to play a critical role in reperfusion injury, and antioxidants have been shown to protect against ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury. The study reported in this chapter was designed to examine the mechanism of propranolol protection, a nonspecific beta-adrenergic blocking drug, against acute I-R injury. Isolated rat hearts subjected to 60-minute global ischemia and 40-minute reperfusion showed a significant rise in the resting tension associated with a poor recovery of the contractile function. Hearts perfused with the buffer containing propranolol displayed almost complete recovery of contractile force and a significant decrease in resting tension. Antioxidant enzyme activities, superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx), and catalase (CAT) were no different in control and propranolol-exposed hearts. Atenolol, a β1-specific blocker, offered no significant protection against I-R-induced contractile dysfunction. Perfusion with atenolol resulted in a decrease in catalase and an increase in GSHPx activities. Lipid peroxidation in the I-R hearts was significantly reduced by propranolol. It is suggested that propranolol protection under acute conditions may not involve β-blockade or changes in endogenous antioxidant enzymes. Rather, it may be secondary to the membrane-stabilizing and/or direct antioxidant effects of the drug. Protection by a chronic treatment has been earlier suggested to involve an increase in endogenous antioxidant reserve. Thus, propranolol protection, under acute as well as chronic treatments, appears to involve antioxidant effects with different characteristics.


GSHPx Activity Global Ischemia Control Heart High Energy Phosphate Endogenous Antioxidant Enzyme 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Kowaluk
    • 1
  • Neelam Khaper
    • 1
  • Claudio Rigatto
    • 1
  • Vince Palace
    • 1
  • Pawan K. Singal
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre and University of ManitobaUSA

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