Damaging effects of the calcium paradox are reduced in isolated hearts from ethanol-dependent rats: Paradoxic effects of dihydropyridine drugs

Leon J. Guppy, John M. Littleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previous experiments showed that isolated hearts from ethanol-exposed rats show a marked increase in sensitivity to anoxic myocardial damage, and we suggested that this may be due to excess calcium entry through L-type voltage-operated calcium channels (L-VOCCs). To challenge this hypothesis, we investigated the effect of ethanol treatment ex vivo on a damaging stimulus, the 'calcium paradox,' which is associated with removal of calcium from the perfusate. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to intoxicating concentrations of ethanol for 6-10 days by inhalation. Isolated hearts from these animals were perfused with Krebs-Henseleit buffer by using a modified Langendorff technique, and the calcium paradox induced by a 10-min period of perfusion with calcium-free buffer, followed by reperfusion with calcium- containing buffer. Compared with controls, hearts from ethanol-exposed rats were significantly protected against myocardial damage, as shown by a marked reduction in release of intracellular proteins (lactate dehydrogenase, creatine phosphokinase, and myoglobin) during the reperfusion phase. These indices of myocardial damage were modified by the presence of the dihydropyridine (DHP) calcium channel antagonist nitrendipine (10-6 M) and the DHP L-VOCC activator Bay K 8644 (10-7 M) in the perfusate during the calcium paradox. Paradoxically, both drugs appeared to increase the damaging effects of calcium-free perfusion, with this effect being generally greater in the preparations from ethanol-exposed rats. As a result, the difference between these hearts and those from control rats was reduced, although a significant degree of protection against the calcium paradox remained. The results support the hypothesis that long-term exposure to ethanol in vivo produces marked alterations in the toxic effects of changes in myocardial calcium concentration. The increased sensitivity to DHP drugs of isolated hearts from ethanol-treated rats is consistent with previous experiments showing increased DHP radioligand-binding sites in these tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-771
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Bay K 8644
  • Calcium channels
  • Calcium paradox
  • Dependence
  • Ethanol
  • Heart
  • Nitrendipine
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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