Nonexocytotic noradrenaline release and ventricular fibrillation in ischemic rat hearts

Thomas Kurz, Bertram Offner, Jürgen Schreieck, Gert Richardt, Ralph Tölg, Albert Schömig

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38 Scopus citations


In myocardial ischemia, nonexocytotic noradrenaline release has been identified as underlying mechanism of ischemia-evoked noradrenaline release. Nonexocytotic noradrenaline release can be suppressed by inhibitors of the neuronal noradrenaline carrier (uptake), such as desipramine. Utilizing this pharmacological intervention the role of local noradrenaline release in the genesis of ischemia-induced ventricular arrhythmias was studied. Regional ischemia was induced in rat isolated perfused hearts by ligature of the left anterior descending coronary artery, and the venous effluent obtained during the first 2 min of reperfusion was used to measure the release of endogenous noradrenaline by high-performance liquid chromatography methods. Coronary occlusion caused ventricular fibrilation in a well reproducible manner with an incidence of 70 to 80% during a 30 min observation period. Blockade of uptake, by desipramine decreased the occurrence of ischemia-induced ventricular fibrillation to 60% (0.01 μmol/1) or 20% (0.1 μmol/l), and ventricular fibrillation was completely suppressed by 1 μmol/l desipramine. Likewise, desipramine (0.01–1 μmol/l) concentration-dependently reduced endogenous noradrenaline release during 30 min of regional myocardial ischemia. Nisoxetine, a structurally unrelated inhibitor of uptake,, also suppressed ischemia-evoked ventricular fibrillation. In contrast to its antifibrillatory effect during regional myocardial ischemia, desipramine precipitated arrhythmias when ventricular fibrillation was induced by perfusing normoxic hearts with exogenous noradrenaline. Combination of desipramine (0.1 μmol/1) with exogenous noradrenaline (0.01 to 1 μmol/l) increased the incidence of ventricular fibrillation compared to noradrenaline perfusion alone. Under these conditions, uptake1-blockade is known to increase the extracellular concentration of the perfused noradrenaline. Finally, in the isolated, spontaneously beating papillary muscle of the left rat heart, desipramine (0.1 and 1.0 μmol/l) had no effect on the upstroke velocity of action potentials, the action potential duration and the effective refractory period. In conclusion, the findings demonstrate that nonexocytotic noradrenaline release is an important mediator of ischemia-induced ventricular fibrillation in isolated hearts of the rat. It is also documented that uptake, inhibitors such as desipramine reveal their effects on ventricular fibrillation secondary to their action on transmembrane noradrenaline transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
JournalNaunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Arrhythmias
  • Catecholamines
  • Desipramine
  • Myocardial ischemia
  • Rat heart
  • Uptake


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