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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Nov;93(5):1824-32.

Myotoxic effects of clenbuterol in the rat heart and soleus muscle.

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Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2ET, United Kingdom.


Myocyte-specific necrosis in the heart and soleus muscle of adult male Wistar rats was investigated in response to a single subcutaneous injection of the anabolic beta(2)-adrenergic receptor agonist clenbuterol. Necrosis was immunohistochemically detected by administration of a myosin antibody 1 h before the clenbuterol challenge and quantified by using image analysis. Clenbuterol-induced myocyte necrosis occurred against a background of zero damage in control muscles. In the heart, the clenbuterol-induced necrosis was not uniform, being more abundant in the left subendocardium and peaking 2.4 mm from the apex. After position (2.4 mm from the apex), dose (5 mg clenbuterol/kg), and sampling time (12 h) were optimized, maximum cardiomyocyte necrosis was found to be 1.0 +/- 0.2%. In response to the same parameters (i.e., 5 mg of clenbuterol and sampled at 12 h), skeletal myocyte necrosis was 4.4 +/- 0.8% in the soleus. These data show significant myocyte-specific necrosis in the heart and skeletal muscle of the rat. Such irreversible damage in the heart suggests that clenbuterol may be damaging to long-term health.

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