Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Rakesh C. Kukreja


Prior studies have demonstrated the effect of diazoxide in protecting against apoptosis via mitochondrial KATP channel opening in vitro. The current investigations are designed to determine if sildenafil, a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor and known mitochondrial KATP channel opener, would protect against chronic doxorubicin cardiomyopathy both in vivo and in vitro.Male ICR mice were randomized to 1 of 4 treatments: saline, sildenafil (0.7 mg/kg IP), doxorubicin (5 mg/kg IP), and sildenafil (0.7 mg/kg IP)+doxorubicin. Apoptosis was determined using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick-end labeling and in situ oligo ligation methods. Desmin distribution was determined via immunofluorescence. Bcl-2 was analyzed by Western blot. Left ventricular function was measured in Langendorff mode. Electrocardiographical analysis measured changes indicative of doxorubicin cardiotoxicity (ST-prolongation). In vitro studies using adult ventricular cardiomyocytes were exposed to doxorubicin (1 μM), sildenafil (1 μM) with or without NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 100 μM), or 5-hydroxydecanoate (5-HD; 100 μM) 1 hour before doxorubicin and incubated for 18 hours. Doxorubicin-treated mice demonstrated increased apoptosis and desmin disruption, which was attenuated in the sildenafil+doxorubicin group. Bcl-2 decreased in the doxorubicin group but was maintained at basal levels in the sildenafil+doxorubicin group. Left ventricular developed pressure and rate pressure product were significantly depressed in the doxorubicin group but attenuated in the sildenafil+doxorubicin group. ST-interval significantly increased in the doxorubicin group over 8 weeks. In the sildenafil+doxorubicin group, ST-interval remained unchanged from baseline. Doxorubicin significantly increased apoptosis, caspase-3 activation, and disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential in vitro,. In contrast, sildenafil significantly protected against doxorubicin cardiotoxicity; however, protection was abolished by both L-NAME and 5-HD. Cell viability studies using spectrophotometer and flow cytometric techniques demonstrated that sildenafil did not affect the antitumor efficacy of doxorubicin in PC-3 cells in vitro. In fact, flow cytometry data indicate that sildenafil, when combined with doxorubicin, was synergistic in the antineoplastic action of doxorubicin. Prophylactic treatment with sildenafil prevented apoptosis and left ventricular dysfunction in a chronic model of doxorubicin-induced cardiomyopathy. Moreover, these studies provide relevant clinical data on the safety and efficacy of sildenafil, leading the way for clinical trials in humans receiving doxorubicin chemotherapy.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Physiology Commons