1. This study examines the protective effect of staurosporine, chelerythrine, Ro 31-8220 and 2,3-butanedione monoxime in rat hearts during hypothermic storage.

2. Hearts were microperfused at 4°C for 24 or 48 h with a storage buffer that in some cases contained one of these protein kinase C inhibitors either alone or in combination with 2,3-butanedione monoxime. After hypothermic storage, hearts were rewarmed to 37°C with Krebs—Henseleit buffer. Cardiac function was then assessed in either Langendorff mode or working heart mode.

3. Compared with values from fresh non-stored hearts, hypothermic stored hearts showed a significant decrease in both coronary flow and left ventricular developed pressure when the stored hearts were reperfused in Langendorff mode. The decrease in coronary flow and left ventricular developed pressure was more pronounced in hearts stored for 48 h than in those stored for 24 h.

4. Hearts stored for 24 or 48 h, with or without the protein kinase C inhibitors, and then perfused in working mode generated less aortic flow and less cardiac output than fresh unstored hearts.

5. Hearts preserved in solutions containing staurosporine, chelerythrine, Ro 31-8220 or 2,3-butanedione monoxime had significantly higher left ventricular developed pressure values on reperfusion than hearts stored without any such drug.

6. Addition of 2,3-butanedione monoxime to a storage buffer containing either staurosporine, chelerythrine or Ro 31-8220 further improved left ventricular developed pressure, aortic flow and cardiac output values in these stored hearts. The group of hearts stored in a buffer containing 2,3-butanedione monoxime and chelerythrine gave the highest left ventricular developed pressure value seen during reperfusion.

7. The ATP and creatine phosphate concentrations of hearts stored in buffer alone were significantly lower than those of fresh unstored hearts, irrespective of the duration of storage. ATP concentrations were better preserved in hearts stored in a buffer containing 2,3-butanedione monoxime or/and one of the protein kinase C antagonists than those stored without such antagonists. A positive correlation was found between peak cardiac output values and the concentrations of combined high-energy phosphates in various groups of stored and reperfused hearts.

8. The present study showed that inhibition of protein kinase C during long-term hypothermic storage significantly increased high-energy phosphate concentrations and also improved contractile function during reperfusion.

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