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A high glycogen level may be beneficial to the ischemic heart by providing glycolytic ATP or detrimental by increasing intracellular lactate and protons. To determine the effect of high glycogen on the ischemic myocardium, the glycogen content of Langendorff-perfused rat hearts was either depleted or elevated before 32 minutes of low-flow (0.5 mL/min) ischemia with Krebs-Henseleit buffer with or without 11 mmol/L glucose, followed by 32 minutes of reperfusion with buffer containing 11 mmol/L glucose. 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectra were acquired sequentially throughout. Further experiments involved early reperfusion or the addition of HOE 694, a Na+-H+ exchange inhibitor, during reperfusion. When glucose was supplied throughout ischemia, no ischemic contracture occurred, and postischemic recovery of contractile function was highest, at 88% of preischemic function. In the absence of glucose, normal-glycogen hearts underwent ischemic contracture at 5 minutes, had an end-ischemic pH of 6.87, and recovered to 54%, whereas in high-glycogen hearts, contracture was delayed to 13 minutes, the end-ischemic pH was 6.61, and functional recovery decreased to 13%. Contracture onset coincided with the decrease in glycolysis, which occurred as glycogen became fully depleted. Functional recovery in the high-glycogen hearts increased to 89% when reperfused before contracture and to 56% when reperfused in the presence of HOE 694. Thus, during brief ischemia in the high-glycogen hearts, ischemic glycogen depletion and contracture were avoided, and the hearts were protected from injury. In contrast, during prolonged ischemia in the high-glycogen hearts, glycogen became fully depleted, and myocardial injury occurred; the injury was exacerbated by the lower ischemia pH in these hearts, leading to increased Na+-H+ exchange during reperfusion. The contradictory findings of past studies concerning the effect of high glycogen on the ischemic myocardium may thus be due to differences in the extent of glycogen depletion during ischemia.

Original publication




Journal article


Circ Res

Publication Date





482 - 491


Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Coronary Circulation, Glycogen, Glycolysis, Hydrolysis, In Vitro Techniques, Lactates, Lactic Acid, Male, Myocardial Contraction, Myocardial Ischemia, Myocardial Reperfusion, Myocardium, Rats, Rats, Wistar