Defining the Mechanisms, Mediators and Clinical Applications of Remote Ischemic Preconditioning

European Coordinator:
  • Torsten TOFTEGAARD NIELSEN († 21/08/2011)/Hans Erik BOTKER, University of Aarhus (Denmark)
North American Coordinator:
  • Andrew REDINGTON, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
  • Rajesh KHARBANDA, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (UK)
  • John CALLAHAN, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
  • Gregory WILSON, Hopsital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
  • Christopher CALDARONE, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
  • Brian McCRINDLE, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
  • Michael SCHMIDT, University of Aarhus (Denmark)

Ischemia, a reduction in the blood supply to a bodily organ, can cause damage or death to that organ if the blood supply is diminished for a sufficient period of time.  However, it has been known for some while that exposing tissue such as heart muscle to brief periods of ischemia prior to a more prolonged period of ischemia somehow protects that tissue from injury.  Researchers have recently discovered that this protective effect can derive from ischemia produced elsewhere in the body.  For example, exposing an arm or leg briefly to ischemia using a blood pressure cuff can protect the heart from ischemic injury during cardiac surgery.  This process has been called remote ischemic preconditioning (rIPC), and is the focus of inquiry for the network headed by Dr. Redington and Dr. Nielsen.  The goal of this research is to identify what happens in rIPC at a molecular level, and how the process can be initiated from ischemia elsewhere in the body.  Network investigators hope to be able to isolate the substances in the blood that ultimately set in motion the process of rIPC, and to look into how rIPC can be used in the treatment of patients.  This research will have important implications for injury prevention in cardiac intervention, and may be applicable to other organ systems.