Oxygen-derived free radicals and myocardial reperfusion injury: an overview

Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
R Bolli

Abstract

Reperfusion of acutely ischemic myocardium is associated with various distinctive pathophysiologic derangements, which are collectively referred to as reperfusion injury. Among these, three have been attributed to oxygen radicals: a) arrhythmias, b) transient mechanical dysfunction ("stunning"), and c) cell death. a) Reperfusion-induced arrhythmias. Although the precise mechanism for reperfusion arrhythmias remains to be determined, considerable evidence suggests that oxygen radicals play an important pathogenetic role in these rhythm disturbances. b) Transient mechanical dysfunction ("myocardial stunning"). Studies suggest that this abnormality is caused by events occurring in the initial seconds of reperfusion, and therefore represents a manifestation of sublethal, reversible reperfusion injury. Although our understanding of the mechanism of myocardial stunning is still fragmentary, there is overwhelming evidence for a pathogenetic role of oxygen radicals. c) Cell death. The evidence that reperfusion causes extension of the infarct produced by the antecedent ischemia is highly controversial. Although several studies have reported reduction of infarct size with antioxidants applied at the time of reperfusion, numerous other in...Continue Reading

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