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1.  From Rapid to Delayed and Remote Postconditioning: the Evolving Concept of Ischemic Postconditioning in Brain Ischemia 
Current Drug Targets  2012;13(2):173-187.
Ischemic postconditioning is a concept originally defined to contrast with that of ischemic preconditioning. While both preconditioning and postconditioning confer a neuroprotective effect on brain ischemia, preconditioning is a sublethal insult performed in advance of brain ischemia, and postconditioning, which conventionally refers to a series of brief occlusions and reperfusions of the blood vessels, is conducted after ischemia/reperfusion. In this article, we first briefly review the history of preconditioning, including the experimentation that initially uncovered its neuroprotective effects and later revealed its underlying mechanisms-of-action. We then discuss how preconditioning research evolved into that of postconditioning – a concept that now represents a broad range of stimuli or triggers, including delayed postconditioning, pharmacological postconditioning, remote postconditioning – and its underlying protective mechanisms involving the Akt, MAPK, PKC and KATP channel cell-signaling pathways. Because the concept of postconditioning is so closely associated with that of preconditioning, and both share some common protective mechanisms, we also discuss whether a combination of preconditioning and postconditioning offers greater protection than preconditioning or postconditioning alone.
PMCID: PMC3346695  PMID: 22204317
postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection
2.  The Protective Effects of Ischemic Postconditioning against Stroke: From Rapid to Delayed and Remote Postconditioning 
The author reviews the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning, a recently emerging strategy with broad implications in the search for new treatments in stroke and myocardial ischemic injury. Ischemic postconditioning, which refers to a series of brief ischemia and reperfusion cycles applied immediately at the site of the ischemic organ after reperfusion, results in reduced infarction in both cerebral and myocardial ischemia. Conventional postconditioning induced within a few minutes after reperfusion is arbitrarily defined as rapid postconditioning. In contrast, postconditioning performed hours to days after stroke is defined as delayed postconditioning. In addition, postconditioning can be mimicked using anesthetics or other pharmacological agents as stimuli to protect against ischemia/reperfusion injury or performed in a distant organ, which is known as remote postconditioning. In this article, the author discusses the conceptual origin of classical rapid ischemic postconditioning and its evolution into a term that represents a broad range of stimuli or triggers, including delayed postconditioning, pharmacological postconditioning, and remote postconditioning. Thereafter, various in vivo and in vitro models of postconditioning and its potential protective mechanisms are discussed. Since the concept of postconditioning is so closely associated with that of preconditioning and both share some common protective mechanisms, whether a combination of preconditioning and postconditioning offers greater protection than preconditioning or postconditioning alone is also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3204606  PMID: 22053169
Postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection
3.  The Akt signaling pathway contributes to postconditioning’s protection against stroke; the protection is associated with the MAPK and PKC pathways 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;105(3):943-955.
We previously reported that ischemic postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion reduced infarct volume 2 days after focal ischemia in rats. Here, we extend this data by examining long-term protection and exploring underlying mechanisms involving the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways. Post-conditioning reduced infarct and improved behavioral function assessed 30 days after stroke. Additionally, postconditioning increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) as measured by western blot and Akt activity as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Inhibiting Akt activity by a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, enlarged infarct in postconditioned rats. Postconditioning did not affect protein levels of phosphorylated-phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 or -phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (molecules upstream of Akt) but did inhibit an increase in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt effector. In addition, postconditioning blocked β-catenin phosphorylation subsequent to glycogen synthase kinase, but had no effect on total or non-phosphorylated active β-catenin protein levels. Furthermore, postconditioning inhibited increases in the amount of phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the MAPK pathway. Finally, postconditioning blocked death-promoting δPKC cleavage and attenuated reduction in phosphorylation of survival-promoting εPKC. In conclusion, our data suggest that postconditioning provides long-term protection against stroke in rats. Additionally, we found that Akt activity contributes to postconditioning’s protection; furthermore, increases in εPKC activity, a survival-promoting pathway, and reductions in MAPK and δPKC activity; two putative death-promoting pathways correlate with postconditioning’s protection.
PMCID: PMC2746404  PMID: 18182053
Akt; cerebral ischemia; mitogen-activated protein kinase; postconditioning; protein kinase C; β-catenin
4.  Protection of the ischemic myocardium during the reperfusion: between hope and reality 
The heart is an organ that requires an important energy input to ensure its contractile function. Myocardial ischemia happens when there is a deficiency of blood flow that is responsible for the passage from an aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Myocardial ischemia results from an imbalance between inputs and the needs of nutrient and oxygen to the myocardium. The restoration of myocardial perfusion called reperfusion is a way to save the ischemic myocardium. However, although reperfusion is beneficial for the survival of the ischemic myocardium, it also induces a deleterious effect in addition to that of ischemic stress. Three decade ago, while several studies, strived to elucidate the protective effect of preconditioning, a phenomenon performed before ischemia and having a powerful protective effects against ischemia/reperfusion injury, very few have believed in the possibility of protecting the myocardium after ischemia (during reperfusion). Actually, both ischemic and pharmacological postconditioning as well as controlled reperfusion methods to protect the ischemic heart have proved effective in the reduction of damage related to ischemia/reperfusion. The possibility of protecting the myocardium during reperfusion opens a new area in the research against damage caused by ischemia/reperfusion because these methods are easily transferable in a clinic setting.
PMCID: PMC3427983  PMID: 22937492
Ischemia; reperfusion injury; heart; preconditioning; postconditioning and controlled reperfusion
5.  Cardioprotection by postconditioning in conscious rats is limited to coronary occlusions <45 min 
Brief episodes of ischemia and reperfusion after a lethal ischemic insult confer cardioprotection, a phenomenon termed “ischemic postconditioning.” However, all studies reported to date have been conducted in open-chest animal models. We sought to determine whether postconditioning occurs in conscious animals and whether it protects against severe myocardial injury.
Chronically instrumented rats were assigned to a 30- (Subset 1), 45- (Subset 2), or 60-min (Subset 3) coronary occlusion followed by 24 h of reperfusion. In each subset, rats received no further intervention (control), were preconditioned with 12 cycles of 2-min occlusion/2-min reperfusion immediately (early preconditioning; EPC) or 24 h (late preconditioning; LPC) before myocardial infarction, or were postconditioned with 20 cycles of 10-s occlusion/10-s reperfusion immediately after myocardial infarction (20-10 PostC).
With a 30-min occlusion, infarct size (54.4 ± 2.3% of risk region in control-30) was significantly reduced in EPC-30, LPC-30, and 20-10 PostC-30 groups (by 72, 70, and 47%, respectively; all P < 0.05 vs. control-30). With a 45-min occlusion, infarct size (62.2 ± 2.4% in control-45) was reduced in EPC-45 and LPC-45 groups (by 47 and 41%, respectively; all P < 0.05 vs. control-45) but not in the 20-10 PostC-45 group [55.4 ± 2.3%, P = not significant (NS) vs. control-45]. With a 60-min occlusion, infarct size (72.7 ± 2.2% in control-60) was reduced in the EPC-60 (by 20%, P < 0.05) but not in the LPC-60 (63.6 ± 2.5%, P = NS) or in the 20-20 PostC group (71.5 ± 3.4%, P = NS).
Both early and late ischemic preconditioning as well as ischemic postconditioning confer protection in conscious rats; however, unlike early preconditioning, postconditioning protects only against coronary occlusions <45 min. In the conscious rat, the cardioprotection afforded by postconditioning is limited to mild to moderate myocardial injury.
PMCID: PMC3741072  PMID: 16815986
myocardium; ischemia; infarct size; preconditioning
6.  Effects of sevoflurane preconditioning and postconditioning on rat myocardial stunning in ischemic reperfusion injury*  
Ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning distinctly attenuate ventricular arrhythmia after ischemia without affecting the severity of myocardial stunning. Therefore, we report the effects of sevoflurane preconditioning and postconditioning on stunned myocardium in isolated rat hearts. Isolated rat hearts were underwent 20 min of global ischemia and 40 min of reperfusion. After an equilibration period (20 min), the hearts in the preconditioning group were exposed to sevoflurane for 5 min and next washout for 5 min before ischemia. Hearts in the sevoflurane postconditioning group underwent equilibration and ischemia, followed immediately by sevoflurane exposure for the first 5 min of reperfusion. The control group received no treatment before and after ischemia. Left ventricular pressure, heart rate, coronary flow, electrocardiogram, and tissue histology were measured as variables of ventricular function and cellular injury, respectively. There was no significant difference in the duration of reperfusion ventricular arrhythmias between control and sevoflurane preconditioning group (P=0.195). The duration of reperfusion ventricular arrhythmias in the sevoflurane postconditioning group was significantly shorter than that in the other two groups (P<0.05). ±(dP/dt)max in the sevoflurane preconditioning group at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 min after reperfusion was significantly higher than that in the control group (P<0.05), and there were no significant differences at 40 min after reperfusion among the three groups (P>0.05). As expected, for a 20-min general ischemia, infarct size in heart slices determined by 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining among the groups was not obvious. Sevoflurane postconditioning reduces reperfusion arrhythmias without affecting the severity of myocardial stunning. In contrast, sevoflurane preconditioning has no beneficial effects on reperfusion arrhythmias, but it is in favor of improving ventricular function and recovering myocardial stunning. Sevoflurane preconditioning and postconditioning may be useful for correcting the stunned myocardium.
PMCID: PMC2852543  PMID: 20349523
Inhalation anesthetics; Sevoflurane; Postconditioning; Preconditioning; Ischemia-reperfusion injury; Myocardial stunning
7.  Protection of ischemic post conditioning against transient focal ischemia-induced brain damage is associated with inhibition of neuroinflammation via modulation of TLR2 and TLR4 pathways 
Background and purpose
Ischemic postconditioning has been demonstrated to be a protective procedure to brain damage caused by transient focal ischemia/reperfusion. However, it is elusive whether the protection of postconditioning against brain damage and neuroinflammation is via regulating TLR2 and TLR4 pathways. In the present study, we examined the protection of ischemic postconditioning performed immediately prior to the recovery of cerebral blood supply on brain damage caused by various duration of ischemia and tested the hypothesis that its protection is via inhibition of neuroinflammation by modulating TLR2/TLR4 pathways.
Brain damage in rats was induced by using the middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model. Ischemic postconditioning consisting of fivecycles of ten seconds of ischemia and reperfusion was performed immediately following theischemic episode Theduration of administration of ischemic postconditioning was examined by comparing its effects on infarction volume, cerebral edema and neurological function in 2, 3, 4, 4.5and 6 hour ischemia groups. The protective mechanism of ischemic postconditioning was investigated by comparing its effects on apoptosis, production of the neurotoxic cytokine IL-1β and the transcription and expression of TLR2, TLR4 and IRAK4 in the 2 and 4.5 hour ischemia groups.
Ischemic postconditioning significantly attenuated cerebral infarction, cerebral edema and neurological dysfunction in ischemia groups of up to 4 hours duration, but not in 4.5and 6 hour ischemia groups. It also inhibited apoptosis, production of IL-1β, abnormal transcription and expression of TLR2, TLR4 and IRAK4 in the 2 hour ischemia group, but not in the 4.5 hour ischemia group.
Ischemic postconditioning protected brain damage caused by 2, 3 and 4 hours of ischemia, but not by 4.5 and 6 hours of ischemia. The protection of ischemic postconditioning is associated with its inhibition of neuroinflammation via inhibition of TLR2 and TLR4 pathways.
PMCID: PMC3908918  PMID: 24460643
Ischemic postconditioning; Cerebral ischemia/reperfusion; TLR2; TLR4; Neuroinflammation
8.  Ischemic postconditioning may not influence early brain injury induced by focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion in rats 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2010;58(2):176-183.
Experimental studies have shown that ischemic postconditioning can reduce neuronal injury in the setting of cerebral ischemia, but the mechanisms are not yet clearly elucidated. This study was conducted to determine whether ischemic postconditioning can alter expression of heat shock protein 70 and reduce acute phase neuronal injury in rats subjected to transient focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion.
Focal cerebral ischemia was induced by intraluminal middle cerebral artery occlusion for 60 min in twenty male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). Rats were randomized into control group and an ischemic postconditioning group (10 rats per group). The animals of control group had no intervention either before or after MCA occlusion. Ischemic postconditioning was elicited by 3 cycles of 30 s reperfusion interspersed by 10 s ischemia immediately after onset of reperfusion. The infarct ratios, brain edema ratios and motor behavior deficits were analyzed 24 hrs after ischemic insult. Caspase-3 reactive cells and cells showing heat shock protein 70 activity were counted in the caudoputamen and frontoparietal cortex.
Ischemic postconditiong did not reduce infarct size and brain edema ratios compared to control group. Neurologic scores were not significantly different between groups. The number of caspase-3 reactive cells in the ischemic postconditioning group was not significantly different than the value of the control group in the caudoputamen and frontoparietal cortex. The number of cells showing heat shock protein 70 activity was not significantly different than the control group, as well.
These results suggest that ischemic postconditioning may not influence the early brain damage induced by focal cerebral ischemia in rats.
PMCID: PMC2872862  PMID: 20498797
Focal cerebral ischemia; Neuroproctection; Postconditioning; Rat
9.  Delayed Postconditioning Protects against Focal Ischemic Brain Injury in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3851.
We and others have reported that rapid ischemic postconditioning, interrupting early reperfusion after stroke, reduces infarction in rats. However, its extremely short therapeutic time windows, from a few seconds to minutes after reperfusion, may hinder its clinical translation. Thus, in this study we explored if delayed postconditioning, which is conducted a few hours after reperfusion, offers protection against stroke.
Methods and Results
Focal ischemia was generated by 30 min occlusion of bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) combined with permanent occlusion of middle cerebral artery (MCA); delayed postconditioning was performed by repetitive, brief occlusion and release of the bilateral CCAs, or of the ipsilateral CCA alone. As a result, delayed postconditioning performed at 3h and 6h after stroke robustly reduced infarct size, with the strongest protection achieved by delayed postconditioning with 6 cycles of 15 min occlusion/15 min release of the ipsilateral CCA executed from 6h. We found that this delayed postconditioning provided long-term protection for up to two months by reducing infarction and improving outcomes of the behavioral tests; it also attenuated reduction in 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-uptake therefore improving metabolism, and reduced edema and blood brain barrier leakage. Reperfusion in ischemic stroke patients is usually achieved by tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) application, however, t-PA's side effect may worsen ischemic injury. Thus, we tested whether delayed postconditioning counteracts the exacerbating effect of t-PA. The results showed that delayed postconditioning mitigated the worsening effect of t-PA on infarction.
Delayed postconditioning reduced ischemic injury after focal ischemia, which opens a new research avenue for stroke therapy and its underlying protective mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2588536  PMID: 19066627
10.  Effects of ischemic pre- and postconditioning on HIF-1α, VEGF and TGF-β expression after warm ischemia and reperfusion in the rat liver 
Ischemic pre- and postconditioning protects the liver against ischemia/reperfusion injuries. The aim of the present study was to examine how ischemic pre- and postconditioning affects gene expression of hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) in liver tissue.
28 rats were randomized into five groups: control; ischemia/reperfusion; ischemic preconditioning (IPC); ischemic postconditioning (IPO); combined IPC and IPO. IPC consisted of 10 min of ischemia and 10 min of reperfusion. IPO consisted of three cycles of 30 sec. reperfusion and 30 sec. of ischemia.
HIF-1α mRNA expression was significantly increased after liver ischemia compared to controls (p = 0.010). HIF-1α mRNA expression was significantly lower in groups subjected to IPC or combined IPC and IPO when compared to the ischemia/reperfusion group (p = 0.002). VEGF-A mRNA expression increased in the ischemia/reperfusion or combined IPC and IPO groups when compared to the control group (p < 0.05).
Ischemic conditioning seems to prevent HIF-1α mRNA induction in the rat liver after ischemia and reperfusion. This suggests that the protective effects of ischemic conditioning do not involve the HIF-1 system. On the other hand, the magnitude of the HIF-1α response might be a marker for the degree of I/R injuries after liver ischemia. Further studies are needed to clarify this issue.
PMCID: PMC3155899  PMID: 21771288
11.  Remote postconditioning by humoral factors in effluent from ischemic preconditioned rat hearts is mediated via PI3K/Akt-dependent cell-survival signaling at reperfusion 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2010;106(1):135-145.
Short non-lethal ischemic episodes administered to hearts prior to (ischemic preconditioning, IPC) or directly after (ischemic postconditioning, IPost) ischemic events facilitate myocardial protection. Transferring coronary effluent collected during IPC treatment to un-preconditioned recipient hearts protects from lethal ischemic insults. We propose that coronary IPC effluent contains hydrophobic cytoprotective mediators acting via PI3K/Akt-dependent pro-survival signaling at ischemic reperfusion. Ex vivo rat hearts were subjected to 30 min of regional ischemia and 120 min of reperfusion. IPC effluent administered for 10 min prior to index ischemia attenuated infarct size by ≥55% versus control hearts (P < 0.05). Effluent administration for 10 min at immediate reperfusion (reperfusion therapy) or as a mimetic of pharmacological postconditioning (remote postconditioning, RIPost) significantly reduced infarct size compared to control (P < 0.05). The IPC effluent significantly increased Akt phosphorylation in un-preconditioned hearts when administered before ischemia or at reperfusion, while pharmacological inhibition of PI3K/Akt-signaling at reperfusion completely abrogated the cardioprotection offered by effluent administration. Fractionation of coronary IPC effluent revealed that cytoprotective humoral mediator(s) released during the conditioning phase were of hydrophobic nature as all hydrophobic fractions with molecules under 30 kDa significantly reduced infarct size versus the control and hydrophilic fraction-treated hearts (P < 0.05). The total hydrophobic effluent fraction significantly reduced infarct size independently of temporal administration (before ischemia, at reperfusion or as remote postconditioning). In conclusion, the IPC effluent retains strong cardioprotective properties, containing hydrophobic mediator(s) < 30 kDa offering cytoprotection via PI3K/Akt-dependent signaling at ischemic reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC3012213  PMID: 21103992
Postconditioning; Preconditioning; Cardioprotection; Ischemia; Reperfusion; Akt
12.  Hurdles to clear before clinical translation of ischemic postconditioning against stroke 
Translational stroke research  2013;4(1):63-70.
Ischemic postconditioning has been established for its protective effects against stroke in animal models. It is performed after post-stroke reperfusion and refers to a series of induced ischemia or a single brief one. This review article addresses major hurdles in clinical translation of ischemic postconditioning to stroke patients, including potential hazards, the lack of well-defined protective paradigms, and the paucity of deeply-understood protective mechanisms. A hormetic model, often used in toxicology to describe a dose-dependent response to a toxic agent, is suggested to study both beneficial and detrimental effects of ischemic postconditioning. Experimental strategies are discussed, including how to define the hazards of ischemic (homologous) postconditioning and the possibility of employing non-ischemic (heterologous) postconditioning to facilitate clinical translation. This review concludes that a more detailed assessment of ischemic postconditioning and studies of a broad range of heterologous postconditioning models are warranted for future clinical translation.
PMCID: PMC3601799  PMID: 23524538
ischemic postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; hormesis; clinical translation
13.  Hyperglycemia-Induced Inhibition of DJ-1 Expression Compromised the Effectiveness of Ischemic Postconditioning Cardioprotection in Rats 
Ischemia postconditioning (IpostC) is an effective way to alleviate ischemia and reperfusion injury; however, the protective effects seem to be impaired in candidates with diabetes mellitus. To gain deep insight into this phenomenon, we explored the role of DJ-1, a novel oncogene, that may exhibit powerful antioxidant capacity in postconditioning cardioprotection in a rat model of myocardial ischemia reperfusion injury. Compared with normal group, cardiac DJ-1 was downregulated in diabetes. Larger postischemic infarct size as well as exaggeration of oxidative stress was observed, while IpostC reversed the above changes in normal but not in diabetic rats. DJ-1 was increased after ischemia and postconditioning contributed to a further elevation; however, no alteration of DJ-1 was documented in all subgroups of diabetic rats. Alteration of the cardioprotective PI3K/Akt signaling proteins may be responsible for the ineffectiveness of postconditioning in diabetes. There is a positive correlation relationship between p-Akt and DJ-1 but a negative correlation between infarct size and DJ-1, which may partially explain the interaction of DJ-1 and IpostC cardioprotection. Our result indicates a beneficial role of DJ-1 in myocardial ischemia reperfusion. Downregulation of cardiac DJ-1 may be responsible for the compromised diabetic heart responsiveness to IpostC cardioprotection.
PMCID: PMC3835206  PMID: 24303086
14.  Morphine and remifentanil-induced cardioprotection: its experimental and clinical outcomes 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2011;61(5):358-366.
During the past few decades, a large number of animal studies demonstrated that commonly used opioids could provide cardioprotection against ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. Opioid-induced preconditioning or postconditioning mimics ischemic preconditioning (I-Pre) or ischemic postconditioning (I-Post). Both δ- and κ-opioid receptors (OPRs) play a crucial role in opioid-induced cardioprotection (OIC). Down stream signaling effectors of OIC include ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels, protein kinase C (PKC), tyrosine kinase, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase), extracellular signal regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2), glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), and mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP), among others. Recently, various reports also suggest that opioids could provide cardioprotection in humans. This review will discuss OIC using mostly morphine and remifentanil which are widely used during cardiac anesthesia in addition to the clinical implications of OIC.
PMCID: PMC3229012  PMID: 22148082
Ischemic postconditioning; Ischemic preconditioning; Morphine; Myocardial ischemia; Myocardial reperfusion; Remifentanil
15.  Combined Preconditioning and Postconditioning Provides Synergistic Protection against Liver Ischemic Reperfusion Injury 
Hepatic Ischemia and Reperfusion Injury (IRI) is a major cause of liver damage during liver surgery and transplantation. Ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning are strategies that can reduce IRI. In this study, different combined types of pre- and postconditioning procedures were tested in a murine warm hepatic IRI model to evaluate their protective effects. Proanthocyanidins derived from grape seed was used before ischemia process as pharmacological preconditioning to combine with technical preconditioning and postconditioning. Three pathways related to IRI, including reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, pro-inflammatory cytokines release and hypoxia responses were examined in hepatic IRI model. Individual and combined pre- and postconditioning protocols significantly reduce liver injury by decreasing the liver ROS and cytokine levels, as well as enhancing the hypoxia tolerance response. Our data also suggested that in addition to individual preconditioning or postconditioning, the combination of these two treatments could reduce liver ischemia/reperfusion injury more effectively by increasing the activity of ROS scavengers and antioxidants. The utilization of grape seed proanthocyanidins (GSP) could improve the oxidation resistance in combined pre- and postconditioning groups. The combined protocol also further increased the liver HIF-1 alpha protein level, but had no effect on pro-inflammatory cytokines release compared to solo treatment.
PMCID: PMC3371568  PMID: 22701341
Preconditioning; Postconditioning; Ischemia; Reperfusion Injury; Proanthocyanidins
16.  Myocardial ischemic conditioning: Physiological aspects and clinical applications in cardiac surgery 
Ischemia–reperfusion is a major determinant of myocardial impairment in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The main goal of research in cardioprotection is to develop effective techniques to avoid ischemia–reperfusion lesions. Myocardial ischemic conditioning is a powerful endogenous cardioprotective phenomenon. First described in animals in 1986, myocardial ischemic conditioning consists of applying increased tolerance of the myocardium to sustained ischemia by exposing it to brief episodes of ischemia–reperfusion. Several studies have sought to demonstrate its effective cardioprotective action in humans and to understand its underlying mechanisms. Myocardial ischemic conditioning has two forms: ischemic preconditioning (IPC) when the conditioning stimulus is applied before the index ischemia and ischemic postconditioning when the conditioning stimulus is applied after it. The cardioprotective action of ischemic conditioning was reproduced by applying the ischemia–reperfusion stimulus to organs remote from the heart. This non-invasive manner of applying ischemic conditioning has led to its application in clinical settings. Clinical trials for the different forms of ischemic conditioning were mainly developed in cardiac surgery. Many studies suggest that this phenomenon can represent an interesting adjuvant to classical cardioprotection during on-pump cardiac surgery. Ischemic conditioning was also tested in interventional cardiology with interesting results. Finally, advances made in the understanding of mechanisms that underlie the cardioprotective action of ischemic conditioning have paved the way to a new form of myocardial conditioning which is pharmacological conditioning.
PMCID: PMC3978870  PMID: 24719539
Ischemia–reperfusion injury; Ischemic preconditioning; Ischemic postconditioning; Remote ischemic preconditioning; Cardiac surgery
17.  Phosphomimetic Modulation of eNOS Improves Myocardial Reperfusion and Mimics Cardiac Postconditioning in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85946.
Myocardial infarction resulting from ischemia-reperfusion injury can be reduced by cardiac postconditioning, in which blood flow is restored intermittently prior to full reperfusion. Although key molecular mechanisms and prosurvival pathways involved in postconditioning have been identified, a direct role for eNOS-derived NO in improving regional myocardial perfusion has not been shown. The objective of this study is to measure, with high temporal and spatial resolution, regional myocardial perfusion during ischemia-reperfusion and postconditioning, in order to determine the contribution of regional blood flow effects of NO to infarct size and protection.
Methods and Results
We used myocardial contrast echocardiography to measure regional myocardial blood flow in mice over time. Reperfusion after myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury is improved by postconditioning, as well as by phosphomimetic eNOS modulation. Knock-in mice expressing a phosphomimetic S1176D form of eNOS showed improved myocardial reperfusion and significantly reduced infarct size. eNOS knock-out mice failed to show cardioprotection from postconditioning. The size of the no-reflow zone following ischemia-reperfusion is substantially reduced by postconditioning and by the phosphomimetic eNOS mutation.
Conclusions and Significance
Using myocardial contrast echocardiography, we show that temporal dynamics of regional myocardial perfusion restoration contribute to reduced infarct size after postconditioning. eNOS has direct effects on myocardial blood flow following ischemia-reperfusion, with reduction in the size of the no-reflow zone. These results have important implications for ongoing clinical trials on cardioprotection, because the degree of protective benefit may be significantly influenced by the regional hemodynamic effects of eNOS-derived NO.
PMCID: PMC3897570  PMID: 24465805
18.  Effect of morphine-induced postconditioning in corrections of tetralogy of fallot 
Results of previous reports on ischemic postconditioning in animals and humans were very encouraging. Although ischemic postconditioning possessed a wide prospect of clinical application, debates on the precise ischemic postconditioning algorithm to use in clinical settings were ongoing. In this regard, pharmacological strategies were possible alternative methods. Accumulating data demonstrated that pharmacological postconditioning with morphine conferred cardioprotection in animals. This trial aimed to evaluate the effect of morphine-induced postconditioning on protection against myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury in patients undergoing corrections of Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).
Eight-nine consecutive children scheduled for corrections of TOF were enrolled and randomly assigned to either a postconditioning group (patients received a dose of morphine (0.1 mg/kg) injected via a cardioplegia needle into the aortic root for direct and focused delivery to the heart within 1 minute starting at 3 min before aorta cross-clamp removal, n=44) or a control group (the same protocol was performed as in the postconditioning group except that patients received the same volume of saline instead, n=45). The peri-operative relevant data were investigated and analyzed, and the cardiac troponin I (cTnI) was assayed preoperatively, and then 4 h, 8 h, 12 h, 24 h and 48 h after reperfusion.
Morphine-induced postconditioning reduced postoperative peak cTnI release as compared to the control group (0.57 ± 0.15 versus 0.75 ± 0.20 ng/mL, p<0.0001). Morphine-induced postconditioned patients had lower peak inotropic score (5.7 ± 2.4 versus 8.4 ± 3.6, p<0.0001) and shorter duration of mechanical ventilation as well as ICU stay (20.6 ± 6.8 versus 28.5 ± 8.3 hours, p<0.0001 and 40.4 ± 10.3 versus 57.8 ± 15.2 hours, p<0.0001, respectively), while higher left ventricular ejection fraction as well as cardiac output (0.57±0.15 versus 0.51±0.13, p=0.0467 and 1.39 ± 0.25 versus 1.24 ± 0.21 L/min, p=0.0029, respectively) as compared to the control group during the first postoperative 24 hours.
Morphine-induced postconditioning may provide enhanced cardioprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury in children undergoing corrections of TOF.
PMCID: PMC3666925  PMID: 23577699
Pharmacological postconditioning; Morphine; Ischemia reperfusion injury; Pediatric cardiac surgery; Trials
19.  Neuroprotective Effects of Ischemic Preconditioning and Postconditioning on Global Brain Ischemia in Rats through the Same Effect on Inhibition of Apoptosis 
Transient forebrain or global ischemia induces neuronal death in vulnerable CA1 pyramidal cells with many features. A brief period of ischemia, i.e., ischemic preconditioning, or a modified reperfusion such as ischemic postconditioning, can afford robust protection of CA1 neurons against ischemic challenge. Therefore, we investigated the effect of ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning on neural cell apoptosis in rats. The result showed that both ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning may attenuate the neural cell death and DNA fragment in the hippocampal CA1 region. Further western blot study suggested that ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning down-regulates the protein of cleaved caspase-3, caspase-6, caspase-9 and Bax, but up-regulates the protein Bcl-2. These findings suggest that ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning have a neuroprotective role on global brain ischemia in rats through the same effect on inhibition of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3382765  PMID: 22754351
brain ischemic injury; ischemic preconditioning; ischemic postconditioning; apoptosis; neuroprotection
20.  The Akt pathway is involved in rapid ischemic tolerance in focal ischemia in Rats 
Translational stroke research  2010;1(3):202-209.
Although the protective mechanisms of delayed ischemic preconditioning have received extensive studies, few have addressed the mechanisms associated with rapid ischemic postconditioning. We investigated whether ischemic tolerance induced by rapid preconditioning is regulated by the Akt survival signaling pathway. Stroke was generated by permanent occlusion of the left distal middle cerebral artery (MCA) plus 30 min or 1 h occlusion of the bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) in male rats. Rapid preconditioning performed 1h before stroke onset reduced infarct size by 69% in rats with 30 min CCA occlusion, but by only 19% with 1 h occlusion. After control ischemia with 30 min CCA occlusion, Western Blot showed that P-Akt was transiently increased while Akt kinase assay showed that Akt activity was decreased. Although preconditioning did not change P-Akt levels at 1h and 5h compared with control ischemia, it attenuated reduction in Akt activity at 5h in the penumbra. However, preconditioning did not change the levels of P-PDK1, P-PTEN, and P-GSK3β in the Akt pathway, all of which were decreased after stroke. At last, the PI3K kinase inhibitor, LY294002, completely reversed the protection from ischemic preconditioning. In conclusion, Akt contributes to the protection of rapid preconditionin against stroke.
PMCID: PMC3144475  PMID: 21804899
rapid preconditioning; ischemic tolerance; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection; Akt
21.  Sevoflurane postconditioning reduces myocardial reperfusion injury in rat isolated hearts via activation of PI3K/Akt signaling and modulation of Bcl-2 family proteins*  
Sevoflurane postconditioning reduces myocardial infarct size. The objective of this study was to examine the role of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in anesthetic postconditioning and to determine whether PI3K/Akt signaling modulates the expression of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins in sevoflurane postconditioning. Isolated and perfused rat hearts were prepared first, and then randomly assigned to the following groups: Sham-operation (Sham), ischemia/reperfusion (Con), sevoflurane postconditioning (SPC), Sham plus 100 nmol/L wortmannin (Sham+Wort), Con+Wort, SPC+Wort, and Con+dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO). Sevoflurane postconditioning was induced by administration of sevoflurane (2.5%, v/v) for 10 min from the onset of reperfusion. Left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP), left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP), maximum increase in rate of LVDP (+dP/dt), maximum decrease in rate of LVDP (−dP/dt), heart rate (HR), and coronary flow (CF) were measured at baseline, R30 min (30 min of reperfusion), R60 min, R90 min, and R120 min. Creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were measured after 5 min and 10 min reperfusion. Infarct size was determined by triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining at the end of reperfusion. Total Akt and phosphorylated Akt (phospho-Akt), Bax, Bcl-2, Bad, and phospho-Bad were determined by Western blot analysis. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Student-Newman-Keuls’ test were used to investigate the significance of differences between groups. The LVDP, ±dP/dt, and CF were higher and LVEDP was lower in the SPC group than in the Con group at all points of reperfusion (P<0.05). The SPC group had significantly reduced CK and LDH release and decreased infarct size compared with the Con group [(22.9±8)% vs. (42.4±9.4)%, respectively; P<0.05]. The SPC group also had increased the expression of phosphor-Akt, Bcl-2, and phospho-Bad, and decreased the expression of Bax. Wortmannin abolished the cardioprotection of sevoflurane postconditioning. Sevoflurane postconditioning may protect the isolated rat heart. Activation of PI3K and modulation of the expression of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins may play an important role in sevoflurane-induced myocardial protection.
PMCID: PMC2932876  PMID: 20803770
Sevoflurane; Postconditioning; Cardioprotection; Akt; Bcl-2; Bad
22.  Sphingosine Kinase and Sphingosine 1-Phosphate in Cardioprotection 
Activation of sphingosine kinase/sphingosine 1-phosphate– mediated signaling has emerged as a critical cardioprotective pathway in response to acute ischemia/reperfusion injury. Application of exogenous sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) in cultured cardiac myocytes subjected to hypoxia or treatment of isolated hearts either before ischemia or at the onset of reperfusion (pharmacologic preconditioning or postconditioning) exerts prosurvival effects. Synthetic congeners of S1P mimic these responses. Gene-targeted mice null for the sphingosine kinase 1 isoform whose hearts are subjected to ischemia/reperfusion injury exhibit increased infarct size and respond poorly either to ischemic preconditioning or to ischemic postconditioning. Measurements of cardiac sphingosine kinase activity and S1P parallel these observations. High-density lipoprotein is a major carrier of S1P, and studies of hearts in which selected S1P receptors have been deleted implicate the S1P cargo of high-density lipoprotein in cardioprotection. These observations have considerable relevance for future therapeutic approaches to acute and chronic myocardial injury.
PMCID: PMC2835544  PMID: 19247197
cardioprotection; cell signaling; dimethylsphingosine; high-density lipoprotein; sphingosine kinase; sphingosine 1-phosphate; S1P receptors
23.  Remote preconditioning, perconditioning, and postconditioning: a comparative study of their cardioprotective properties in rat models 
Clinics  2013;68(2):263-268.
Ischemia reperfusion injury is partly responsible for the high mortality associated with induced myocardial injury and the reduction in the full benefit of myocardial reperfusion. Remote ischemic preconditioning, perconditioning, and postconditioning have all been shown to be cardioprotective. However, it is still unknown which one is the most beneficial. To examine this issue, we used adult male Wistar rat ischemia reperfusion models to compare the cardioprotective effect of these three approaches applied on double-sided hind limbs.
The rats were randomly distributed to the following five groups: sham, ischemia reperfusion, remote preconditioning, remote perconditioning, and remote post-conditioning. The ischemia/reperfusion model was established by sternotomy followed by a 30-min ligation of the left coronary artery and a subsequent 3-h reperfusion. Remote conditioning was induced with three 5-min ischemia/5-min reperfusion cycles of the double-sided hind limbs using a tourniquet.
A lower early reperfusion arrhythmia score (1.50±0.97) was found in the rats treated with remote perconditioning compared to those in the ischemia reperfusion group (2.33±0.71). Meanwhile, reduced infarct size was also observed (15.27±5.19% in remote perconditioning, 14.53±3.45% in remote preconditioning, and 19.84±5.85% in remote post-conditioning vs. 34.47±7.13% in ischemia reperfusion, p<0.05), as well as higher expression levels of the apoptosis-relevant protein Bcl-2/Bax following global (ischemia/reperfusion) injury in in vivo rat heart models (1.255±0.053 in remote perconditioning, 1.463±0.290 in remote preconditioning, and 1.461±0.541 in remote post-conditioning vs. 1.003±0.159 in ischemia reperfusion, p<0.05).
Three remote conditioning strategies implemented with episodes of double-sided hind limb ischemia/reperfusion have similar therapeutic potential for cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury, and remote perconditioning has a greater ability to prevent reperfusion arrhythmia.
PMCID: PMC3584272  PMID: 23525325
Cardioprotective Property; Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury; Models
24.  Role of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases in Myocardial Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury during Heart Transplantation 
Journal of Transplantation  2012;2012:928954.
In solid organ transplantation, ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury during organ procurement, storage and reperfusion is an unavoidable detrimental event for the graft, as it amplifies graft inflammation and rejection. Intracellular mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways regulate inflammation and cell survival during IR injury. The four best-characterized MAPK subfamilies are the c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal- regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2), p38 MAPK, and big MAPK-1 (BMK1/ERK5). Here, we review the role of MAPK activation during myocardial IR injury as it occurs during heart transplantation. Most of our current knowledge regarding MAPK activation and cardioprotection comes from studies of preconditioning and postconditioning in nontransplanted hearts. JNK and p38 MAPK activation contributes to myocardial IR injury after prolonged hypothermic storage. p38 MAPK inhibition improves cardiac function after cold storage, rewarming and reperfusion. Small-molecule p38 MAPK inhibitors have been tested clinically in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, but not in transplanted patients, so far. Organ transplantation offers the opportunity of starting a preconditioning treatment before organ procurement or during cold storage, thus modulating early events in IR injury. Future studies will need to evaluate combined strategies including p38 MAPK and/or JNK inhibition, ERK1/2 activation, pre- or postconditioning protocols, new storage solutions, and gentle reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC3316985  PMID: 22530110
25.  Remote Limb Ischemic Postconditioning Protects Against Neonatal Hypoxic–Ischemic Brain Injury in Rat Pups by the Opioid Receptor/Akt Pathway 
Background and Purpose
Remote ischemic postconditoning, a phenomenon in which brief ischemic stimuli of 1 organ protect another organ against an ischemic insult, has been demonstrated to protect the myocardium and adult brain in animal models. However, mediators of the protection and underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that remote limb ischemic postconditioning applied immediately after hypoxia provides neuroprotection in a rat model of neonatal hypoxia–ischemia (HI) by mechanisms involving activation of the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
HI was induced in postnatal Day 10 rat pups by unilateral carotid ligation and 2 hours of hypoxia. Limb ischemic postconditioning was induced by 4 conditioning cycles of 10 minutes of ischemia and reperfusion on both hind limbs immediately after HI. The opioid antagonist naloxone, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin, or opioid agonist morphine was administered to determine underlying mechanisms. Infarct volume, brain atrophy, and neurological outcomes after HI were evaluated. Expression of phosphorylated Akt, Bax, and phosphorylated ERK1/2 was determined by Western blotting.
Limb ischemic postconditioning significantly reduced infarct volume at 48 hours and improved functional outcomes at 4 weeks after HI. Naloxone and wortmannin abrogated the postconditioning-mediated infarct-limiting effect. Morphine given immediately after hypoxia also decreased infarct volume. Furthermore, limb ischemic postconditioning recovered Akt activity and decreased Bax expression, whereas no differences in phosphorylated ERK1/2expression were observed.
Limb ischemic postconditioning protects against neonatal HI brain injury in rats by activating the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3703505  PMID: 21183744
Akt; limb ischemic postconditioning; neonatal hypoxia–ischemia; opioid receptor

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