l-cis Diltiazem, an optical isomer of diltiazem, protects against myocardial dysfunction in vitro, whereas its Ca2+ channel blocking activity is about 100 times less potent than that of diltiazem. However, there is no evidence that l-cis diltiazem actually protects against ischemia/reperfusion injury in vivo. To assess this, we employed an anesthetized rabbit model, where the left circumflex artery was occluded for 15 min and reperfused for 360 min. Treatment with diltiazem before and during ischemia (bolus 200 μg/kg and 15 μg/kg per minute for 25 min, i.v.; 575 μg/kg total) showed slightly depressed hemodynamic parameters, while l-cis diltiazem (1150 μg/kg) had no effect. Treatment with l-cis diltiazem produced a high recovery of the thickening fraction and limited the infarct size in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, the treatment with l-cis diltiazem (1150 μg/kg) or diltiazem (575 μg/kg) 5 min before reperfusion also limited the infarct size, but not after reperfusion. These results suggest that l-cis diltiazem affects some events in the onset of reperfusion, independently of Ca2+-channel-blocking action. Our observations are the first to show that l-cis diltiazem demonstrated its cardioprotective action in the ischemic rabbit heart in vivo.
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