A component of garlic oil may help release protective compounds to the heart after heart attack, during cardiac surgery, or as a treatment for heart failure.
At low concentrations, hydrogen sulphide gas has been found to protect the heart from damage. However, this unstable and volatile compound has been difficult to deliver as therapy.
Now researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have turned to diallyl trisulphide, a garlic oil component, as a way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulphide to the heart. Their findings suggest that doctors could use diallyl trisulphide in many of the situations where researchers have proposed using hydrogen sulphide.
The data are being presented Wednesday, 16 November at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions conference in Orlando.
'We are now performing studies with orally active drugs that release hydrogen sulphide,' says David Lefer, PhD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Laboratory at Emory University Hospital, Midtown. 'This could avoid the need to inject sulphide-delivery drugs outside of an emergency situation.'
Working with Lefer, postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Predmore blocked the coronary arteries of mice for 45 minutes, simulating a heart attack, and gave them diallyl sulphide just before blood flow was restored. The compound reduced the proportion of damaged heart tissue in the area at risk by 61 percent, compared with untreated animals.
'Interruption of oxygen and blood flow damages mitochondria, and loss of mitochondrial integrity can lead to cell death,' he says. 'We see that diallyl sulphide can temporarily turn down the function of mitochondria, preserving them and lowering the production of reactive oxygen species.'
Additional data on diallyl trisulphide in a mouse model of heart failure is being presented by a member of Lefer's team, postdoctoral fellow Kazuhisa Kondo.
Transverse aortic constriction results in enlargement of the heart and is a model of heart failure. Diallyl sulphide twice daily, given after aortic constriction, could reduce heart enlargement, Kondo found.
Also at the meeting, Lefer's team is presenting additional data on mice deficient in the enzyme that generates hydrogen sulphide.