Chronic Treatment With Allopurinol Boosts Survival and Cardiac Contractility in Murine Postischemic Cardiomyopathy
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Oxidative stress is a hallmark of systemic illnesses, including heart failure. Nevertheless, the overall importance of radical production in the heart remains conjectural; is it merely a marker of illness, or can intervention alter the progression of disease? This question was addressed by blocking xanthine oxidase (XO), a superoxide-generating enzyme that is upregulated in animal models of heart failure. In a randomized prospective trial design, we administered the XO inhibitor allopurinol orally to mice that had undergone massive myocardial infarction (MI). Cardiac XO activity was elevated in untreated mice after MI; allopurinol suppressed the XO activity to levels comparable to those in sham-operated mice. Eighty-one percent of untreated mice died of advanced heart failure over 2 to 4 weeks of follow-up. Survival doubled in the allopurinol-treated mice, whereas cardiac contractile function (both in vivo and in isolated muscle) was markedly improved. Response to isoproterenol was restored to near-normal levels in the allopurinol group but was attenuated in untreated mice. Oxidative modifications to proteins were prevented in the allopurinol-treated mice. Our findings indicate that targeted blockade of just one source of oxidants, XO, impacts dramatically on the progression of postischemic cardiomyopathy in mice and prevents oxidative protein modifications.