Peptide Hormone Reduces Infarct Size After Heart Attack

Also prevents cardiac function deterioration in pigs, study shows

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A gastrointestinal peptide hormone originally derived from the saliva of a venomous lizard is effective in reducing infarct size and preventing cardiac function deterioration after a heart attack in pigs, according to the results of an animal study published in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Leo Timmers, M.D., Ph.D., from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues induced a myocardial infarct in 18 pigs, then randomly assigned them to either phosphate-buffered saline or exenatide (a glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue).

The investigators found that exenatide significantly reduced infarct size and prevented cardiac function from deteriorating (as assessed by systolic wall thickening). Exenatide treatment was also associated with changes in cellular signaling, fewer cells undergoing programmed cell death and less nuclear oxidative stress, the researchers report. Serum insulin levels were higher after exenatide treatment while glucose levels were unaffected, the report indicates.

The data "add further support to the cardioprotective effects of incretin analogues in a clinically applicable model of ischemia-reperfusion," Ian G. Webb, and colleagues from St. Thomas' Hospital in London, United Kingdom, write in an accompanying editorial. "The authors are to be congratulated on a well-designed and highly translational study; however, mechanistic insight is still limited."

The authors of the study disclose associations with pharmaceutical and medical companies.

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