BACKGROUND - Although most previous studies have attempted to correlate plasma concentrations of vitamins with specific cardiovascular end points, metabolic considerations suggest that changes in myocardial tissue and storage organs may be better indicators of myocardial oxidative stress.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Rats fed commercial chow or a diet enriched with vitamin E for 2 weeks were subjected to either a surgical myocardial infarction (MI) or a sham procedure. Rats were hemodynamically assessed 16 weeks after surgery, and their heart, liver, kidney, and plasma were analyzed for antioxidant vitamins E (tocopherol) and A (retinol and total retinyl esters). At 16 weeks, MI rats on a control diet showed depressed peak systolic and elevated diastolic pressures in both right and left ventricles compared with their sham controls. Plasma concentrations of vitamins E and A in MI rats were not different from sham controls fed the same diet. However, concentrations of vitamin E in left ventricle and liver and of vitamin A in liver (retinol) and kidney (retinyl esters) were decreased in rats with MI compared with the sham controls. Vitamin E supplementation improved hemodynamic function in rats with MI and increased plasma, myocardial, liver, and kidney concentrations of vitamin E. The vitamin E diet also prevented the loss of total retinyl esters from the kidney but not of retinol from the liver in MI rats.
CONCLUSIONS - Dietary supplements of vitamin E can sustain better cardiac function subsequent to MI. Antioxidant vitamin levels in the myocardium or in storage organs and not in plasma may be better indicators of myocardial oxidative stress.