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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Apr;286(4):H1455-60.

Protein kinase C plays an essential role in sildenafil-induced cardioprotection in rabbits.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) is the most widely used pharmacological drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men. It has potent cardioprotective effects against ischemia-reperfusion injury via nitric oxide and opening of mitochondrial ATP-sensitive K(+) channels. We further investigated the role of protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent signaling pathway in sildenafil-induced cardioprotection. Rabbits were treated (orally) with sildenafil citrate (1.4 mg/kg) 30 min before index ischemia for 30 min and reperfusion for 3 h. The PKC inhibitor chelerythrine (5 mg/kg i.v.) was given 5 min before sildenafil. Infarct size (% of risk area) reduced from 33.65 +/- 2.17 in the vehicle (saline) group to 15.07 +/- 0.63 in sildenafil-treated groups, a 45% reduction compared with vehicle (mean +/- SE, P < 0.05). Chelerythrine abolished sildenafil-induced protection, as demonstrated by increase in infarct size to 31.14 +/- 2.4 (P < 0.05). Chelerythrine alone had an infarct size of 33.5 +/- 2.5, which was not significantly different compared with DMSO-treated group (36.8 +/- 1.7, P > 0.05). Western blot analysis demonstrated translocation of PKC-alpha, -, and -delta isoforms from cytosol to membrane after treatment with sildenafil. However, no change in the PKC-beta and -epsilon isoforms was observed. These data provide direct evidence of an essential role of PKC, and potentially PKC-alpha, -, and -delta, in sildenafil-induced cardioprotection in the rabbit heart.

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