Volatile anesthetic-induced preconditioning

T. Swyers, D. Redford, D. F. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The myocardium has an innate ability to protect itself from ischemic events. This protection occurs when the myocardium is exposed to a brief ischemic period prior to a more extreme ischemic event. This is termed ischemic preconditioning. Ischemic preconditioning induces a series of molecular pathways that protect the cardiac myocyte; first, for a period of 1-6 hours (early preconditioning) and, also, for a second period from 24-72 hours (delayed phase). The early preconditioning is mediated by the release of adenosine which induces a protective signal that is related to the mitochondrial KATP channel activation and activation of the δ-opioid and bradykinin receptors. The delayed phase is related to the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase, superoxide dismutase and heat-shock proteins. Indirect evidence indicates that O2-derived free radicals are involved in the delayed phase, as noted in the early preconditioning phase. Applying ischemic preconditioning to clinical practice can be dangerous and difficult to implement in a controlled fashion. However, recent studies have shown that the use of volatile anesthetics, such as sevoflurane, isoflurane and desflurane, can mimic the early phase of ischemic preconditioning through a multi-pathway signaling of mitochondrial KATP channels. This important finding can easily be applied to clinical practice for patients undergoing surgery. It can also be significantly important for patients undergoing off-pump cardiac bypass surgery or cardiac bypass surgery where there is no cross-clamp or cardioplegia used where the probability of myocardial ischemia is greatly increased. This report will, therefore, discuss the mechanism, safety and efficacy of volatile anesthetics as inducers of cardiac preconditioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalPerfusion (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • KATP channels
  • anesthetics
  • ischemia
  • preconditioning
  • protein kinase C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Safety Research
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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