Glycogen utilization and ischemic injury in the isolated rat heart

Saul Schaefer, Ravichandran Ramasamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Introduction: Fasting increases myocardial glycogen content and has been shown to limit injury and improve recovery following no-flow ischemia in the isolated heart. However, the protective role of glycogen loading per se in fed animals has been questioned by data in preconditioned animals showing that reduced glycogenolysis may be protective prior to no-flow ischemia. Therefore, we hypothesized that fasting protects the globally ischemic heart by mechanisms separate from glycogen loading. Methods: Isolated hearts from rats fasted for 24 h were retrogradely perfused using glucose substrate and subjected to 20 min of global no-flow ischemia. Fed rats were identically perfused either under control conditions (glucose substrate) or with an intervention chosen to increase tissue glycogen (glucose plus insulin, [insulin]) prior to ischemia. Functional recovery and creatine kinase (CK) release were measured during reperfusion. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure intracellular pH, phosphorylated glycolytic intermediates and high-energy phosphates, while the lactate and pyruvate contents of the hearts were measured prior to and at the end of ischemia. Results: Hearts from fasted animals had significantly increased glycogen content prior to ischemia (76.6 ± 2 vs. 40.9 ± 3 μmol glu/gdw in control hearts, P < 0.05) as did hearts exposed to insulin (88.6 ± 10 μmol glu/gdw), but only hearts from fasted animals had greater glycogen utilization during ischemia. Hearts from fasted animals also had lower levels of lactate relative to pyruvate (L/P) under baseline conditions and, on reperfusion, reduced CK release (fasted: 183 ± 48 versus control: 756 ± 56 IU/gdw, P < 0.05). Conversely, insulin hearts had increased CK release (1831 ± 190 IU/gdw, P < 0.001 vs control) and worse functional and metabolic recovery on reperfusion. Compared to the insulin hearts, hearts from fasted animals had both less acidosis and less rapid depletion of ATP during ischemia, as well as lower accumulation of glycolytic intermediates. Conclusion: Fasting protects the heart from ischemic injury and is associated with a lower L/P ratio and increased glycogen utilization during ischemia. In contrast, increasing glycogen content in hearts from fed animals using insulin limits glycogen utilization, increases ischemic injury, and impairs both functional and metabolic recovery under conditions of 20 min of global no-flow ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Fasting
  • Glycolysis
  • Insulin
  • Metabolism
  • NMR
  • Rat, heart

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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