Therapeutic Role of Iodide in Reperfusion Injury Following Heart Attack

The worst damage of heart attack may actually occur after it is over, cardiologists say.

Typically, blocked arteries trigger heart attack. It occurs when blood stops flowing properly to a part of the heart. The absence of oxygen and nutrients during the ischemic period creates a condition in which removal of blockage results in inflammation and oxidative damage. This life-threatening flood of inflammation and cellular destruction is known as, reperfusion injury, which has perplexed scientists for last four decades.

A novel study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre scientists suggests that a dosage of a simple solution of iodide can prevent the worst effects of reperfusion injury. Iodide is a chemical form of the element iodine. It is added to ordinary table salt.

The whole study has been performed on mice. Mice with induced heart attacks were given IV infusions of sodium iodide five minutes before reperfusion. Reduced myocardial infarction (MI), by as much as 75% was observed. When sodium iodide was added in their drinking water for two days before the heart attack induction, they showed significant protection against the damage. Researchers say that several other elemental reducing agents: elements residing in “southeast corner of the Periodic Table,” like sulfide, bromide, selenide and iodide showed the similar type of effect. But iodide had the most intense protective effect on reperfusion injury. Moreover iodide did not show any toxic effect even if used in relatively high dosages. The researchers found some indirect evidences, which demonstrate that iodide might act through thyroid hormone. The iodide did not show the same protective effect in mice with depleted thyroid function.  The beneficial role of iodide might be conferred by depressing thyroid hormone production and resulting in diminishing cardiac metabolism linked to reperfusion injury.

Experts think that it’s too early for people with heart problems to start ingesting iodide before surgery, because of that fact that iodide needs to be passed through trials before its application in humans. But if this procedure turns out to be positive, it could transform medicine and the management of myocardial infarction, the leading cause of death in the Western world. From this point of view, this study could provide a thoroughly researched and documented potential solution to the enduring paradox of reperfusion injury.


Iodide Protects Heart Tissue from Reperfusion Injury. Akiko Iwata, Michael L. Morrison, Mark B. Roth. Published: November 07, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112458


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Arunima Maiti

Arunima Maiti

Biomedical scientist with special interest in reproductive biology.

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