Effects of beta-blockers and Ca2+ -antagonists on the response of the isolated working rat heart to adrenergic stimulants after cardioplegic arrest

Pieter Hattingh, André Coetzee, Ian Harper, Sonia Genade, Amanda Lochner

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During coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, patients pretreated with the combination of beta-blocking drugs and Ca2+ antagonists for control of myocardial ischemia often respond inadequately to adrenergic stimulants administered after cardioplegic arrest. In this study, the effects of the combination of a beta-blocker (propranolol) and a Ca2+ antagonist (nifedipine) on the spontaneous recovery, as well as the adrenergic response of the isolated, perfused, working rat heart after a period of cardioplegic arrest were evaluated. After pretreatment of the animals with propranolol and/or nifedipine, hearts were removed, perfused in the presence of pretreatment drugs, subjected to 45 minutes of normothermic cardioplegic arrest, reperfused, and finally stimulated with exponentially increasing concentrations of a sympathomimetic drug. Propranolol, and to a lesser extent nifedipine, protected the hearts during cardioplegic arrest, as indicated by the improved recovery and maximum response to adrenergic stimulation after cardioplegia. Isoprenaline, a beta-stimulant, (at a 100 × higher than conventional concentration), elicited an adequate inotropic and chronotropic response. Stimulation by the alpha, beta-stimulant adrenaline or dobutamine improved only the inotropic response of propranolol and combination treated hearts. Cautious extrapolation of the results to human may suggest continuation of drug therapy of patients before CABG surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-861
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • adrenergic stimulants
  • beta-adrenergic blocking drugs
  • Ca-antagonists
  • cardioplegia

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