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Basic Res Cardiol. 1999 Jun;94(3):188-98.

Myocardial protection by insulin is dependent on phospatidylinositol 3-kinase but not protein kinase C or KATP channels in the isolated rabbit heart.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile 36688, USA.


Because tyrosine kinase blockade prevents protection by ischemic preconditioning (p.c.) in several species, activation of tyrosine kinase appears to be critical for cardioprotection. The tyrosine kinase's identity, however, is unknown. The present study tested whether activation of a receptor tyrosine kinase, the insulin receptor, could mimic p.c. and if the mechanism of protection was similar to that of p.c. Isolated rabbit hearts were subjected to 30 min of regional ischemia and 2 h of reperfusion. Infarct size was determined by triphenyltetrazolium staining and expressed as a percentage of the area at risk. Infarct size in control hearts was 32.6 +/- 2.3%. A 5-min infusion of insulin (5 mU/ml) followed by a 10-min washout period prior to ischemia significantly reduced infarction to 14.7 +/- 2.1% (P < 0.05). The tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein (50 microM) given around the insulin infusion blocked protection (28.9 +/- 2.8%). However, when present during the onset of ischemia, genistein had no effect on protection triggered by insulin (14.0 +/- 2.4%; P < 0.05). Inhibition of either PKC by polymyxin B (50 microM) or KATP channels by 5-hydroxydecanoate (100 microM) also failed to prevent protection by insulin (17.5 +/- 3.2% and 17.6 +/- 3.0%, respectively). However, the reduction in infarct size by insulin was significantly attenuated by wortmannin (100 nM), a selective inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K, 28.3 +/- 2.2%). Insulin was still able to protect the heart when given only during the reperfusion period (13.2 +/- 3.4%). P.c. reduced infarction to 12.8 +/- 2.0% (P < 0.05) and still offered significant protection in the presence of wortmannin (22.1 +/- 2.4%; P < 0.05). In conclusion, activation of the insulin receptor reduces infarct size in the rabbit heart even when instituted upon reperfusion. However, the mechanism of protection is quite different from that of p.c. and involves activation of PI3K but not PKC or KATP channels.

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