Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 3 October 2001
Vol. 2001, Issue 1, p. nw3
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2001.1.nw3]


Protecting the Heart: Will studying the young save the old?

Evelyn Strauss;2001/1/nw3

Key Words: infarct size • adenosine • protein kinase C • ATP-sensitive potassium channels

Abstract: A little bit of a bad thing can be good for you--but this truism might not apply equally to the old and the young. A variety of minor biochemical and physical assaults on cells and organs can protect them later from more severe forms of the same--or even different--insults. Some drugs that exploit this phenomenon to protect animals and potentially people from permanent heart damage might not work as well in old organisms as in young ones, according to a new study. Schulman and colleagues subjected old rats to one of three drugs that shield younger ones from subsequent heart damage. Afterward, the team blocked blood supply to the heart for 35 minutes before allowing it to flow again. This treatment mimics heart attack and open-heart surgery, where physicians chemically stop the heart while working on it. The drugs significantly reduced the degree of destruction--as measured by the amount of dead heart tissue--in the young animals but not in the old ones. No one yet knows if these results apply to humans, but they raise questions about the wisdom of a common practice: proceeding from promising results in young animals to clinical studies in old humans, the population most affected by heart attacks and open-heart surgery.

--Evelyn Strauss; suggested by Kathy Rosewell

D. Schulman, D. S. Latchman, D. M. Yellon, Effect of aging on the ability of preconditioning to protect rat hearts from ischemia-reperfusion injury. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 281, H1630-H1636 (2001). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Citation: E. Strauss, Protecting the Heart: Will studying the young save the old? Science's SAGE KE (3 October 2001),;2001/1/nw3

Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150