Hexarelin targets neuroinflammatory pathways to preserve cardiac morphology and function in a mouse model of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion

H. McDonald, J. Peart, N. D. Kurniawan, G. Galloway, S. G. Royce, C. S. Samuel, C. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Acute myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury (IRI) underly the detrimental effects of coronary heart disease on the myocardium. Despite the ongoing advances in reperfusion therapies, there remains a lack of effective therapeutic strategies for preventing IRI. Growth hormone secretagogues (GHS) have been demonstrated to improve cardiac function, attenuate inflammation and modulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in models of cardiovascular disease. Recently, we demonstrated a reduction in infarct size after administration of hexarelin (HEX), in a murine model of myocardial infarction. In the present study we employed a reperfused ischemic (IR) model, to determine whether HEX would continue to have a cardioprotective influence in a model of higher clinical relevance. Myocardial ischemia was induced by transient ligation of the left descending coronary artery (tLAD) in C57BL/6 J mice followed by HEX (0.3 mg/kg/day; n = 20) or vehicle (VEH) (n = 18) administration for 21 days, first administered immediately prior-to reperfusion. IR-injured and sham mice were subjected to high-field magnetic resonance imaging to assess left ventricular (LV) function, with HEX-treated mice demonstrating a significant improvement in LV function compared with VEH-treated mice. A significant decrease in interstitial collagen, TGF-β1 expression and myofibroblast differentiation was also seen in the HEX-treated mice after 21 days. HEX treatment shifted the ANS balance towards a parasympathetic predominance; combined with a significant decrease in cardiac troponin-I and TNF-α levels, these findings were suggestive of an anti-inflammatory action on the myocardium mediated via HEX. In this model of IR, HEX appeared to rebalance the deregulated ANS and activate vagal anti-inflammatory pathways to prevent adverse remodelling and LV dysfunction. There are limited interventions focusing on IRI that have been successful in improving clinical outcome in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients, this study provides compelling evidence towards the translational potential of HEX where all others have largely failed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110165
Number of pages11
JournalBiomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Growth hormone secretagogoue
  • Inflammation
  • Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion
  • Remodelling

Cite this