Caffeic acid phenethyl ester possesses potent cardioprotective effects in a rabbit model of acute myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury

Jiangning Tan, Zhizhong Ma, Ling Han, Ruyu Du, Liming Zhao, Xing Wei, Dongming Hou, Brian Johnstone, Martin R. Farlow, Yansheng Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Although great achievements have been made in elucidating the molecular mechanisms contributing to acute myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury, an effective pharmacological therapy to protect cardiac tissues from serious damage associated with acute myocardial infarction, coronary arterial bypass grafting surgery, or acute coronary syndromes has not been developed. We examined the in vivo cardioprotective effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a natural product with potent anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antioxidant activities. CAPE was systemically delivered to rabbits either 60 min before or 30 min after surgically inducing I/R injury. Infarct dimensions in the area at risk were reduced by > 2-fold (P < 0.01) with CAPE treatment at either period. Accordingly, serum levels of normally cytosolic enzymes lactate dehydrogenase, creatine kinase (CK), MB isoenzyme of CK, and cardiac-specific troponin I were markedly reduced in both CAPE treatment groups (P < 0.05) compared with the vehicle-treated control group. CAPE-treated tissues displayed significantly less cell death (P < 0.05), which was in part due to inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation and reduced DNA fragmentation often associated with caspase 3 activation (P < 0.05). In addition, CAPE directly blocked calcium-induced cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Finally, the levels of inflammatory proteins IL-1β and TNF-α expressed in the area at risk were significantly reduced with CAPE treatment (P < 0.05). These data demonstrate that CAPE has potent cardioprotective effects against I/R injury, which are mediated, at least in part, by the inhibition of inflammatory and cell death responses. Importantly, protection is conferred when CAPE is systemically administered after the onset of ischemia, thus demonstrating potential efficacy in the clinical scenario.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2265-H2271
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5 58-5
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase 3
  • p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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