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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Sep;299(3):R786-92. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00184.2010. Epub 2010 Jun 30.

Absence of mitochondrial activation during levosimendan inotropic action in perfused paced guinea pig hearts as demonstrated by modular control analysis.

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Résonance Magnétique des Systèmes Biologiques, UMR5536 CNRS, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, 146 rue Léo-Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux cedex, France.


Levosimendan is a calcium sensitizer developed for the treatment of heart failure. It increases contractile force by enhancing the sensitivity of myofilaments to calcium. Besides this sensitizing effect, the drug has also been reported to show some inhibitory action on phosphodiesterase 3 (PDE3). The inotropic effects of levosimendan have been studied on guinea pig paced perfused hearts by using modular control analysis (MoCA) (Diolez P, Deschodt-Arsac V, Raffard G, Simon C, Santos PD, Thiaudiere E, Arsac L, Franconi JM. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 293: R13-R19, 2007.), an integrative approach of heart energetics using noninvasive (31)P NMR. The aim was to evaluate quantitatively the respective effects of this drug on energy supply and demand modules. Under our experimental conditions, 0.7 muM levosimendan induced a 45% increase in paced heart output associated with a 7% decrease in phosphocreatine and a negligible increase in oxygen consumption. Because MoCA allows in situ study of the internal regulations in intact beating heart energetics, it was applied to describe quantitatively by which routes levosimendan exerts its inotropic action. MoCA demonstrated the absence of any significant effect of the drug on the supply module, which is responsible for the lower increase in oxygen consumption, compared with epinephrine, which increases the ratio between myocardial oxygen consumption and cardiac contraction. This result evidences that, under our conditions, a possible effect of levosimendan on PDE3 activity and/or intracellular calcium remains very low on mitochondrial activity and insignificant on integrated cardiac energetics. Thus, levosimendan inotropic effect on guinea pig heart depends almost entirely on the calcium-sensitizing properties leading to myofilament activation and the concomitant activation of energy supply by the decrease in PCr, therefore improving energetic efficiency of contraction.

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