Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibition mimics intermittent reoxygenation and improves cardioprotection in the hypoxic myocardium

Giuseppina Milano, Paola Bianciardi, Viviane Rochemont, Giuseppe Vassalli, Ludwig K. von Segesser, Antonio F. Corno, Marco Guazzi, Michele Samaja

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Although chronic hypoxia is a claimed myocardial risk factor reducing tolerance to ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), intermittent reoxygenation has beneficial effects and enhances heart tolerance to I/R. Aim of the study: To test the hypothesis that, by mimicking intermittent reoxygenation, selective inhibition of phosphodiesterase-5 activity improves ischemia tolerance during hypoxia. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to hypoxia for 15 days (10% O2) and treated with placebo, sildenafil (1.4 mg/kg/day, i. p.), intermittent reoxygenation (1 h/day exposure to room air) or both. Controls were normoxic hearts. To assess tolerance to I/R all hearts were subjected to 30-min regional ischemia by left anterior descending coronary artery ligation followed by 3 h-reperfusion. Whereas hypoxia depressed tolerance to I/R, both sildenafil and intermittent reoxygenation reduced the infarct size without exhibiting cumulative effects. The changes in myocardial cGMP, apoptosis (DNA fragmentation), caspase-3 activity (alternative marker for cardiomyocyte apoptosis), eNOS phosphorylation and Akt activity paralleled the changes in cardioprotection. However, the level of plasma nitrates and nitrites was higher in the sildenafil+intermittent reoxygenation than sildenafil and intermittent reoxygenation groups, whereas total eNOS and Akt proteins were unchanged throughout. Conclusions: Sildenafil administration has the potential to mimic the cardioprotective effects led by intermittent reoxygenation, thereby opening the possibility to treat patients unable to be reoxygenated through a pharmacological modulation of NO-dependent mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27910
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 28 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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