The contribution of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) treatment, an active fragment of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), to the recovery of postischemic cardiac function, infarct size, the incidence of reperfusion-induced ventricular fibrillation and apoptotic cell death was studied in ischemic/reperfused isolated rat hearts. Rats were subcutaneously injected with 40, 200 and 400 μg/kg of α-MSH, and 12 h later, hearts were isolated, perfused and subjected to 30 min of ischemia followed by 120 min of reperfusion. Thus, after 120 min of reperfusion, with the concentration of 200 μg/kg α-MSH, coronary flow, aortic flow and left ventricular developed pressure were significantly improved from their control values of 14.6±0.6 ml/min, 7.5±0.5 ml/min and 9.1±0.4 kPa to 20.2±0.4 ml/min (p<0.05), 31.5±0.9 ml/min (p<0.05) and 15.9±0.6 (p<0.05) kPa, respectively. With the doses of 40, 200 and 400 μg/kg of α-MSH, infarct size was reduced from its control value of 38±5% to 33±6% (NS), 17±3% (p<0.05) and 19±4% (p<0.05), respectively. The reduction in the incidence of reperfusion-induced ventricular fibrillation followed the same pattern. It is reasonable to assume that a reduction in infarct size, in the α-MSH-treated myocardium, resulted in a reduction as well in apoptotic cell death. Although we did not specifically study the exact mechanism(s) of α-MSH-afforded postischemic protection, we assume that this protection may be related to α-MSH-induced corticosterone release and corticosterone-induced de novo protein synthesis, which reflected in the recovery of postischemic cardiac function in isolated hearts. Thus, interventions that are able to increase plasma corticosterone or glucocorticoid release may prevent the development of ischemia/reperfusion-induced damage.
- α-MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone)
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