Empagliflozin protects the heart against ischemia/reperfusion-induced sudden cardiac death

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Background: Empagliflozin is a selective sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor used to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. Empagliflozin also exerts cardioprotective effects independent from glucose control, but its benefits on arrhythmogenesis and sudden cardiac death are not known. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of empagliflozin on myocardial ischemia/reperfusion-provoked cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death in vivo. Methods: Male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly assigned to sham-operated, control or empagliflozin groups. All except for the sham-operated rats were subjected to 5-min left main coronary artery ligation followed by 20-min reperfusion. A standard limb lead II electrocardiogram was continuously measured throughout the experiment. Coronary artery reperfusion-induced ventricular arrhythmogenesis and empagliflozin therapy were evaluated. The hearts were used for protein phosphorylation analysis and immunohistological assessment. Results: Empagliflozin did not alter baseline cardiac normal conduction activity. However, empagliflozin eliminated myocardial vulnerability to sudden cardiac death (from 69.2% mortality rate in the control group to 0% in the empagliflozin group) and reduced the susceptibility to reperfusion-induced arrhythmias post I/R injury. Empagliflozin increased phosphorylation of cardiac ERK1/2 after reperfusion injury. Furthermore, inhibition of ERK1/2 using U0126 abolished the anti-arrhythmic action of empagliflozin and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Conclusions: Pretreatment with empagliflozin protects the heart from subsequent severe lethal ventricular arrhythmia induced by myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury. These protective benefits may occur as a consequence of activation of the ERK1/2-dependent cell-survival signaling pathway in a glucose-independent manner.




Hu, Z., Ju, F., Du, L., & Abbott, G. W. (2021). Empagliflozin protects the heart against ischemia/reperfusion-induced sudden cardiac death. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12933-021-01392-6

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