Background: Nitric oxide has cardioprotective effects through several mechanisms. However, nitric oxide may have deleterious effects in the presence of superoxide because it is converted to peroxynitrite, which then initiates lipid peroxidation. Using a canine model of orthotopic heart transplantation, we examined whether adding an organic nitric oxide donor, nitroglycerin, to preservation solution elicits lipid peroxidation after reperfusion and causes deleterious effects on coronary endothelial function and left ventricular function. Methods and results: The donor heart was preserved for 24 hours in cold University of Wisconsin solution with nitroglycerin (0.1 mg/mL) supplementation (group NTG, n = 8) or in standard University of Wisconsin solution (group C, n = 8). After reperfusion, changes of coronary resistance were measured during the infusion of acetylcholine (0.1 mg/min)and of sodium nitroprusside (1 mg/min), and percent coronary relaxation was calculated. Left ventricular function was evaluated by pressure-volume relations with the use of a conductance catheter, thereby deriving the slopes of end-systolic pressure-volume relation, stroke work- end-diastolic volume relation, and maximum rate of change of left ventricular pressure-end-diastolic volume relation. Serum lipid peroxide level was measured. Percent coronary relaxation was similar for the 2 groups. The slopes of end-systolic pressure-volume relation, stroke work-end-diastolic volume relation, and maximum rate of change of left ventricular pressure-end- diastolic volume relation in group NTG were significantly higher than those in group C. On the other side, serum lipid peroxide level in group NTG was significantly higher than that in group C. Conclusions: Nitroglycerin may have detrimental effects evidenced by the increase in lipid peroxidation, which implied peroxynitrite formation. However, the overall effect of nitroglycerin was cardioprotective. Although the exact mechanism is yet to be clarified, the superb cardioprotective effect of nitroglycerin overwhelms the exaggeration of lipid peroxidation.
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