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Animal experiments have shown that members of the heat shock protein (HSP) family have cytoprotective properties against ischaemia. In experimentally induced cardiac ischaemia, the induction of HSP70s correlates with reduced infarct size and enhanced myocardial function and endothelial recovery. Direct evidence that increased myocardial HSP70 expression result in cytoprotection during ischaemia has also been obtained using transgenic mice overexpressing either rat or human HSP72. This study examined the induction and expression of myocardial HSP70s after an obligatory period of ischaemia in patients during cardiac surgery. The level of HSP72/HSC73 protein in Tru-cut biopsies of the myocardium, taken before and after an acute ischaemic insult, was examined using a polyclonal antibody. The amount of HSP72 mRNA in the biopsies was also determined by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and correlated HSP72/HSC73 protein expression. In four patients subjected to brief alternating periods of normothermic ischaemia and reperfusion, the amount of myocardial HSP72/HSC73 protein was increased several fold after ischaemic insult. This was accompanied by increased expression of HSP72 mRNA. In contrast, the amounts of myocardial HSP72/HSC73 protein and HSP72 mRNA were unchanged in a patient subjected to a single prolonged period of hypothermic ischaemia. Given the proven myocardial protective properties of HSP72 in experimental models, it is postulated that the observed induction of HSP72 may have a similar function in man.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pathol

Publication Date





362 - 366


Biopsy, Coronary Artery Bypass, HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins, Humans, Ischemic Preconditioning, Myocardial, Myocardial Ischemia