Repository logo

Flavonoid protection of cardiac cells against ischemia-reperfusion injury



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Degree Level



Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury occurs following the majority of cardiac events including myocardial stenosis and heart surgeries. As reactive oxygen species are one of the major contributors to ischemia-reperfusion injury, strategies to prevent their effects may be directed towards enhancing the antioxidant capacity of cells. Polyphenols, and in a more specific category, flavonoids are strong antioxidants, while possessing other biological activities such as anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilatory effects. I hypothesized that flavonoids are able to reduce ischemia-reperfusion-induced cell death through multiple mechanisms including reduction of oxidative stress and induction of cellular antioxidant enzymes. The hypothesis was tested in in vitro and in vivo phases.In the first phase of the studies, rat embryonic ventricular H9c2 cells were treated with various concentrations of polyphenols with or without ascorbate for 1-3 days before induction of ischemia and reperfusion. Ischemia was induced by exposure of the cells to a non-glucose containing solution bubbled with nitrogen, and reperfusion by returning the regular medium containing the corresponding polyphenols and/or ascorbate. Cell viability measurements using the MTT assay or counting acridine orange-stained cells showed that the best protection against cell death was given by catechin (44-58 %), epigallocatechin gallate (48%), proanthocyanidins (44%), and ascorbic acid (57-92%). A low concentration (10 µM) of catechin was more effective with a long-term (2 days) incubation time (64%), while a higher concentration (50 µM) could exert benefit even after 1 h pre-treatment (98%). Quercetin, resveratrol, cyanidin, and delphinidin displayed almost no protection. In the second part of the in vitro study, H9c2 cells were treated with 350 to 450 µM tert-butyl hydroperoxide for 24 h after pre-incubation with various concentrations of polyphenols with or without ascorbate for either short (1 h) or prolonged (3 days) periods. Unlike in the ischemia-reperfusion experiments, 3 days pre-treatment with polyphenols did not protect and often caused cytotoxicity. In short-term (1 h) pre-treatments, the best protection was obtained with 50 µM quercetin (95%), 50 µM epigallocatechin gallate (66%), and 100 µM catechin (28%). Pre-treatment with ascorbic acid (100 µM) with or without polyphenols did not improve cell survival except in one case where it enhanced cytoprotection by epigallocatechin gallate.The second phase of the studies was performed with isolated rat hearts. Rats were fed diets containing broccoli sprouts (2%), saskatoon berries (5%), or green tea extract (0.25%) for 10 days before induction of global ischemia for 20 min and reperfusion for 2 h. Broccoli sprouts decreased cell death in ischemic-reperfused hearts as assessed by caspase-3 activity (86%) and DNA fragmentation (78 %), attenuated oxidative damage as detected by lower thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) (116%) and preserved aconitase activity (82%). Green tea extract prevented apoptosis in hearts as detected by caspase-3 activity (85%), but did not inhibit DNA fragmentation. Berries showed lower TBARS (73%). None of the feedings significantly prevented necrosis as evaluated by the release of lactate dehydrogenase into the coronary effluents, improved coronary flow, or increased heart glutathione.Green tea extract was the only intervention capable of preserving the activity of glutamate cysteine ligase (78%) and quinone reductase (147%) in hearts. The sprouts group was the only group which induced these same enzymes in liver (40 and 44 %, respectively), as it was the only intervention which elevated total liver glutathione (12%). None of the interventions changed heme oxygenase-1 protein levels. Assessment of total polyphenol content revealed that broccoli sprouts had the lowest and green tea extract had the highest amount of polyphenols among the three plant materials, suggesting that the protection exhibited by broccoli sprouts was unlikely to be due to the polyphenols. In conclusion, flavonoids and flavonoid-rich foods can strengthen the cellular ability to fight against oxidative stress. A part of this effect could be due to their direct antioxidant activity, while in prolonged applications they may also activate cellular pathways to promote endogenous antioxidant defences of cells. Application of low doses of flavonoids and consumption of flavonoid-rich plants in long-term ensures their effectiveness while avoiding possible toxicity. However, plants such as broccoli sprouts may have other chemical ingredients bearing biological properties which may help cells to survive states of oxidative stress.



antioxidants, cell death, oxidative stress, flavonoids, ischemia-reperfusion, heart



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






Part Of