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J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Aug;15(8):461-6.

Oleuropein prevents oxidative myocardial injury induced by ischemia and reperfusion.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics F. Cedrangolo, Medical School, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.


The potential protective effects of oleuropein, a dietary antioxidant of olive oil, has been investigated in the isolated rat heart. The organs were subjected to 30 minutes of no-flow global ischemia and then reperfused. At different time intervals, the coronary effluent was collected and assayed for creatine kinase activity as well as for reduced and oxidized glutathione. In addition, the extent of lipid peroxidation was evaluated by measuring thiobarbituric acid reactive substance concentration in cardiac muscle. Pretreatment with 20 microg/g oleuropein before ischemia resulted in a significant decrease in creatine kinase and reduced glutathione release in the perfusate. The protective effect of oleuropein against the post-ischemic oxidative burst was investigated by measuring the release, in the coronary effluent, of oxidized glutathione, a sensitive marker of heart's exposure to oxidative stress. Reflow in ischemic hearts was accompanied by a prompt release of oxidized glutathione; in ischemic hearts pretreated with oleuropein, this release was significantly reduced. Membrane lipid peroxidation was also prevented by oleuropein. The reported data provide the first experimental evidence of a direct cardioprotective effect of oleuropein in the acute events that follow coronary occlusion, likely because of its antioxidant properties. This finding strengthens the hypothesis that the nutritional benefit of olive oil in the prevention of coronary heart disease can be also related to the high content of oleuropein and its derivatives. Moreover, our data, together with the well documented antithrombotic and antiatherogenic activity of olive oil polyphenols, indicate these antioxidants as possible therapeutic tools for the pharmacological treatment of coronary heart disease as well as in the case of cardiac surgery, including transplantation.

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