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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989 Feb;13(2):450-9.

Endothelial and myocardial injury during ischemia and reperfusion: pathogenesis and therapeutic implications.

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Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232.


Early reperfusion remains the most effective way of limiting myocardial necrosis and improving ventricular function in experimental models and human patients. However, the introduction of oxygen and cellular elements, especially the neutrophil, into the ischemic zone may initiate a deleterious cascade of events that limits myocardial salvage after reperfusion. Although the pathogenesis of reperfusion injury remains controversial, recent studies have suggested that the endothelium may play a critical role. Endothelial cells maintain flow in the microcirculation by secreting a number of vasodilatory compounds and substances that prevent plugging of capillaries by inhibiting neutrophil adherence and platelet aggregation. Reperfusion of ischemic myocardium accelerates structural and functional changes in endothelial cells, resulting in a progressive decrease in microcirculatory flow ("no reflow" phenomenon). Numerous studies suggest that activated neutrophils mediate vascular damage by releasing reactive oxygen species and potent proteolytic enzymes. The administration of therapeutic agents that limit endothelial disruption and neutrophil plugging has shown promising results in limiting myocardial reperfusion injury in experimental models.

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