Protective effect of methylprednisolone on the heart during ischemic arrest

R. W. Busuttil, W. J. George, R. L. Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Although corticosteroids have been shown to stabilize lysosomal membranes and prevent release of hydrolytic enzymes, the mechanism of membrane stabilization remains obscure. The few reports regarding the use of steroids in myocardial ischemia have been conflicting. This study was undertaken to determine if a pharmacologic dose of the glucocorticoid methylprednisolone would protect the heart during ischemic cardiac arrest. A randomized double blind study was performed in 25 dogs. Biochemical and hemodynamic parameters were assessed during and after cardiopulmonary bypass and after 30 minutes of ischemic cardiac arrest. Animals were divided into two groups. Group I served as controls and consisted of dogs injected intravenously with the vehicle of methylprednisolone 18 hours and 1 hour prior to the experiment. Group II comprised dogs injected with methylprednisolone, 30 mg. per kilogram, IV, at the same time periods. Blood pH, gases, and electrolytes were measured; aortic, left atrial, and left ventricular pressures were monitored; the first derivative of the left ventricular pressure (dp/dt max.) was also determined. Arterial and coronary sinus blood samples were assayed for lactate levels and activity of the lysosomal enzyme, beta glucuronidase. Left ventricular muscle was assayed for the nucleotides cyclic adenosine 3',5' monophosphate (AMP) and cyclic guanosine 3',5' monophosphate (GMP). Following restoration of coronary flow, mean aortic and left ventricular systolic pressures and left ventricular contractility as determined by dp/dt max. and dp/dt max./IP were depressed in both groups as expected but were significantly higher in Group II than in Group I (p < 0.05). An increase in levels of both cyclic nucleotides occurred in each group during ischemia, but this increase in cyclic GMP was significantly greater in Group I (p < 0.05). β glucuronidase activity and myocardial potassium loss as determined in coronary sinus blood were both significantly greater in Group I than in Group II (p < 0.05). Results of this study demonstrate that pretreatment with a pharmacologic dose of methylprednisolone significantly enhances cardiac recovery after ischemia. Lysosomal membrane stability and modulation of cyclic GMP levels may be critical determinants in the mechanism of cardiac ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-965
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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