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Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2007;7(2):135-9.

Long-term and short-term models for studying anthracycline cardiotoxicity and protectors.

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Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux, Institut Bergonié, Bordeaux-Cedex, France.


The clinical importance of the cardiotoxicity of anthracyclines requires the availability of preclinical models able to predict the cardiotoxicity of novel anthracycline analogs in reference to doxorubicin or of cardioprotectors aimed at circumventing the deleterious effects of these drugs. The reference model has been defined long ago and has proven its validity. Weanling rabbits given weekly injections of doxorubicin for 4 months developed a cardiomyopathy, which can be assessed from a clinical and pathological point of view. Models in other animals such as rats or mice were similarly implemented, also with long-term exposures to the drug, resulting in cardiac failure and severe pathological alterations, which could be graded for comparison. Starting from the evidence that the damage caused by anthracyclines on cardiomyocytes was immediate after each injection and that the functional efficiency of the myocardium should be affected long before the morphological alterations become detectable, we developed a short-term model studying the cardiac performances of isolated perfused hearts of rats that had been treated within 12 days by repetitive administrations of the molecule(s) to be tested. This model provided the data expected from clinical experience: epirubicin appeared less cardiotoxic than doxorubicin; liposomal formulations appeared less cardiotoxic than free drug formulations; dexrazoxane strongly protected against doxorubicin cardiotoxicity. We were then able to show that paclitaxel could potentialize doxorubicin cardiotoxicity, but that docetaxel did not so; or that a high dose of dexrazoxane brought significantly higher protection than a conventional dose. Based upon these contributions, we can encourage the use of the short-term model of isolated perfused rat heart to screen the preclinical cardiotoxicity of anthracycline molecules, formulations and combinations.

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