Peptide Reduces Mortality After Heart Attack in Rats

Ghrelin given soon after heart attack prevents increase in cardiac nerve activity

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Early treatment with ghrelin soon after a myocardial infarction prevents an increase in cardiac sympathetic nerve activity and reduces mortality in rats, according to the results of a study published online July 3 in Endocrinology.

Daryl O. Schwenke, Ph.D., from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and colleagues induced an acute myocardial infarction in anesthetized rats and recorded cardiac sympathetic nerve activity. Saline or ghrelin -- a growth hormone-releasing peptide that improves cardiac function in patients with heart failure -- was administered one minute or two hours after the infarct.

The researchers found that while cardiac sympathetic nerve activity was stable in uninduced rats, nerve activity increased by as much as 110 percent after acute myocardial infarction, which did not occur in rats that received ghrelin one minute post-infarct. Nerve activity fell to pre-infarct levels when ghrelin was given two hours post-infarct. Ghrelin significantly reduced mortality after myocardial infarction (23 percent versus 61 percent), the report indicates.

"These results show that early ghrelin treatment prevents the increase in cardiac sympathetic nerve activity following myocardial infarction, which may contribute to the improved chances of survival," Schwenke and colleagues conclude.

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