1. The yield of mitochondria isolated from perfused hearts subjected to 30 min ischaemia followed by 15 min reperfusion was significantly less than that for control hearts, and this was associated with a decrease in the rates of ADP-stimulated respiration. 2. The presence of 0.2 microM cyclosporin A (CsA) in the perfusion medium during ischaemia and reperfusion caused mitochondrial recovery to return to control values, but did not reverse the inhibition of respiration. 3. A technique has been devised to investigate whether the Ca(2+)-induced non-specific pore of the mitochondrial inner membrane opens during ischaemia and/or reperfusion of the isolated rat heart. The protocol involved loading the heart with 2-deoxy[3H]glucose ([3H]DOG), which will only enter mitochondria when the pore opens. Subsequent isolation of mitochondria demonstrated that [3H]DOG did not enter mitochondria during global isothermic ischaemia, but did enter during the reperfusion period. 4. The amount of [3H]DOG that entered mitochondria increased with the time of ischaemia, and reached a maximal value after 30-40 min of ischaemia. 5. CsA at 0.2 microM did not prevent [3H]DOG becoming associated with the mitochondria, but rather increased it; this was despite CsA having a protective effect on heart function similar to that shown previously [Griffiths and Halestrap (1993) J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 25, 1461-1469]. 6. The non-immunosuppressive CsA analogue [MeAla6]cyclosporin was shown to have a similar Ki to CsA on purified mitochondrial peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans-isomerase and mitochondrial pore opening, and also to have a similar protective effect against reperfusion injury. 7. Using isolated heart mitochondria, it was demonstrated that pore opening could become CsA-insensitive under conditions of adenine nucleotide depletion and high matrix [Ca2+] such as may occur during the initial phase of reperfusion. The apparent increase in mitochondrial [3H]DOG in the CsA-perfused hearts is explained by the ability of the drug to stabilize pore closure and so decrease the loss of [3H]DOG from the mitochondria during their preparation.

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