Anesthetic Agents Isoflurane and Propofol Decrease Maximal Ca2+-Activated Force and Thus Contractility in the Failing Myocardium

Tao Meng, Xianfeng Ren, Xinzhong Chen, Jingui Yu, Jacopo Agrimi, Nazareno Paolocci, Wei Dong Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the normal heart, frequently used anesthetics such as isoflurane and propofol can reduce inotropy. However, the impact of these agents on the failing myocardium is unclear. Here, we examined whether and how isoflurane and propofol influence cardiac contractility in intact cardiac muscles from rats treated with monocrotaline to induce heart failure. We measured force and intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in trabeculae from the right ventricles of the rats in the absence or presence of propofol or isoflurane. At low to moderate concentrations, both propofol and isoflurane dose-dependently depressed cardiac force generation in failing trabeculae without altering [Ca2+]i At high doses, propofol (but not isoflurane) also decreased amplitude of [Ca2+]i transients. During steady-state activation, both propofol and isoflurane impaired maximal Ca2+-activated force (Fmax) while increasing the amount of [Ca2+]i required for 50% of maximal activation (Ca50). These events occurred without apparent change in the Hill coefficient, suggesting no impairment of cooperativity. Exposing these same muscles to the anesthetics after fiber skinning resulted in a similar decrement in Fmax and rise in Ca50 but no change in the myofibrillar ATPase-Ca2+ relationship. Thus, our study demonstrates that challenging the failing myocardium with commonly used anesthetic agents such as propofol and isoflurane leads to reduced force development as a result of lowered myofilament responsiveness to Ca2+ SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Commonly used anesthetics such as isoflurane and propofol can impair myocardial contractility in subjects with heart failure by lowering myofilament responsiveness to Ca2+. High doses of propofol can also reduce the overall amplitude of the intracellular Ca2+ transient. These findings may have important implications for the safety and quality of intra- and perioperative care of patients with heart failure and other cardiac disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-623
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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