Development of an NIH Consortium for PreclinicAl AssESsment of CARdioprotective Therapies (CAESAR): A paradigm shift in studies of infarct size limitation

David J. Lefer, Roberto Bolli

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54 Scopus citations


An estimated 935 000 Americans suffer a myocardial infarction every year; because their prognosis is determined by the size of the infarct, reducing infarct size is of paramount importance to alleviate morbidity and mortality. For 40 years, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has invested enormous resources (at least several hundred million dollars) in preclinical studies aimed at developing infarct-sparing therapies, and several hundred (if not thousands) therapies have been claimed to limit infarct size in preclinical models. Unfortunately, due largely to methodological problems, this enormous investment has not produced any notable clinical application, and no cardioprotective therapy is currently available for clinical use.Clearly, after 40 years of futile efforts, a new approach is needed to overcome the problems that have impeded the translation of cardioprotective therapies. The time has come to apply to preclinical research on cardioprotection, the same standards of scientific rigor that are applied to clinical trials. In compliance with the recommendations of an National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored workshop held in June 2003 and using the clinical trial networks established by the NHLBI as a model for developing a collaborative infrastructure for research sharing, a preclinical consortium has been organized that will operate in a manner analogous to a clinical trial network. This infrastructure has been named CAESAR (Consortium for preclinicAl assESsment of cARdioprotective therapies). Under the direction of Roberto Bolli, 4 Institutions (University of Louisville, Johns Hopkins, Emory University, and Medical College of Virginia) will work together to conduct blinded, randomized, and adequately powered studies using a rigorous design, dose-response analyses, optimal statistical methods, independent data analysis Cores, an independent statistical Core, verification of tetrazolium data with histology and plasma biomarkers, and relevant animal models (including conscious animals and models of comorbidities). Therapies will be tested in 3 species (anesthetized mouse, conscious rabbit, and conscious pig). A major goal is to ensure reproducibility; to this end, each study in each species will be performed in 2 centers using identical protocols.The structure of CAESAR will ensure that the consortium will be a true public resource available to all interested investigators and that all proposed studies will be evaluated in an equitable fashion. Proposals for studying cardioprotective therapies will be solicited from the entire scientific community. The consortium will be available at no cost to all National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded investigators. This unique infrastructure will enable rigorous preclinical evaluation of promising cardioprotective therapies and will serve the entire scientific community (both in the academia and in the biomedical industry), thereby constituting a public resource.Consortium for preclinicAl assESsment of cARdioprotective therapies will be a major paradigm shift in cardioprotection. By screening promising therapies and identifying those that are truly effective in relevant experimental models and, thus, most likely to be effective in patients, CAESAR will dramatically advance our ability to rationally translate basic findings into clinical use. This article will summarize the rationale, structure, and operation of the NHLBI CAESAR Consortium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • acute myocardial infarction
  • cardiovascular disease
  • experimental cardiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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