Cardiology Research and Practice

Cardiac Glycosides: Promises Unmet and Opportunities Missed

Publishing date
01 Nov 2019
Submission deadline
21 Jun 2019

Lead Editor

1University of Toledo, Toledo, USA

2University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA

3Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

4Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

5Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

This issue is now closed for submissions.
More articles will be published in the near future.

Cardiac Glycosides: Promises Unmet and Opportunities Missed

This issue is now closed for submissions.
More articles will be published in the near future.


Cardiac glycosides (digitalis drugs) were introduced to Western medicine in the late 18th century and since then have been used continuously for the treatment of congestive heart failure and/or atrial arrhythmias. Persistent disagreements on their efficacy in the treatment of heart failure eventually led to large-scale controlled clinical trials in the 1980s, but these also did not resolve the disagreements which have led to notable decrease of the use of these drugs. The receptor for these drugs (Na/K-ATPase) which was discovered in the 1950s exists in nearly all mammalian cells. Hence, cardiac glycosides also have the potential of exerting functional effects other than those on the heart; e.g., their effectiveness in cancer treatment has been advocated for the past few decades, but not demonstrated experimentally. Importantly, significant evidence has been presented during the past three decades to suggest the existence and hormonal role of endogenous cardiac glycosides, a role that has also been seriously challenged within the field. Also, during the past few decades, cardiac glycosides have been shown to activate a variety of cell signaling pathways in a number of cell types, leading to inadequately tested suggestions on the effects of these drugs (or hormones) on hypertrophic growth of the heart or the proliferative growth elsewhere. Cardiac glycoside-induced signaling in the heart has also been implicated in the protection of infarcted hearts of experimental animals, with inadequate evidence of such protective effects in man. In spite of these controversies, digitalis drugs continue to have widespread clinical use throughout the world. Therefore, the main challenge facing the field is the clarification of the above-stated uncertainties and controversies.

The primary aim of this special issue is to attempt the resolution of the current uncertainties, as much as possible, in order to clarify the place of venerable cardiac glycosides in modern therapeutics. Hence we invite the submission of manuscripts containing new experimental findings, or commentaries and reviews, which may contribute to the achievement of this aim.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Are any of the current clinical uses of digitalis justified, or not justified?
  • Is the fading clinical use of digitalis justified or not?
  • Should the clinical use of cardiac glycosides other than digoxin be considered?
  • Evidence for or against the hormonal roles of various suggested endogenous cardiac glycosides
  • Evidence for or against the repositioning values of cardiac glycosides
  • Mechanisms of various digitalis-induced cell-signaling pathways in the heart and elsewhere
  • Functional significance of different digitalis-induced cell signaling pathways and their clinical implications
  • Design and use of new cardiac glycosides with improved safety
  • Design and use of new drugs to oppose the undesirable digitalis effects
Cardiology Research and Practice
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