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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2 (2009), Issue 3, Pages 146-151

Sphingosine Protects Aging Hearts from Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury: Superiority to Sphingosine 1-Phosphate and Ischemic Pre- and Post-Conditioning

1Liver Study Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA
2Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
3Drug Studies Unit, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Received 30 March 2009; Revised 1 April 2009; Accepted 2 April 2009

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aging hearts are known to have diminished capacity to be protected against reoxygenation ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury provided by various cardioprotective regimens. In search of a more successful regimen, we have studied the response of aged hearts to preconditioning (PC) and postconditioning (POST) elicited by sphingosine or sphingosine 1-phosphate treatment.

An ex vivo rat heart model was used to study the ability of PC and POST to protect old hearts (27 month) against I/R injury generated by 40 minutes (min) of index ischemia followed by 40 min of reperfusion. The response to ischemic PC was reduced in 27 month old hearts relative to 3–6 month (young) hearts as noted by a poor recovery of left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) upon reperfusion (45% vs. 74% in young hearts) and a large infarct size after 40 min of reperfusion (37% versus 8% in young hearts). PC with sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) was also poor in old hearts yielding only 49% recovery of LVDP and a 27% infarct size. In contrast, PC with sphingosine was unaffected by aging; the 78% recovery of LVDP and 8% infarct size were not different from young hearts. Ischemic POST was less affected by aging than ischemic PC, but the old hearts still experienced infarct sizes of 28%. POST of old hearts with S1P was also associated with a substantial infarct size (24%). However, POST of old hearts with sphingosine was superior to the other forms of POST in that it reduced the infarct size to 12%. S1P levels were found to be lower in old hearts which may contribute to the decreased effectiveness of ischemic PC and POST. Further, phospho-Akt levels and distribution were altered in response to cardioprotection in the old hearts. In conclusion, POST was less affected by aging than PC; and sphingosine is a uniquely effective agent for both PC and POST of aging hearts.