Pericardial delivery of omega-3 fatty acid: A novel approach to reducing myocardial infarct sizes and arrhythmias

Yong Fu Xiao, Daniel C. Sigg, Michael R. Ujhelyi, Joshua J. Wilhelm, Eric S. Richardson, Paul A. Iaizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Basic and clinical evidence suggests that omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) decrease fatal arrhythmias and infarct sizes. This study investigated if pericardial delivery of n-3 PUFAs would protect the myocardium from ischemic damages and arrhythmias. Acute myocardial infarctions were induced in 23 pigs with either 45 min balloon inflations or clamp occlusions of the left anterior descending coronary arteries and 180 min reperfusion. Docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3, DHA, 45 mg), one of the main n-3 PUFAs in fish oil, was infused within the pericardial space only during the 40-min stabilizing phase, 45 min ischemia and initial 5 min reperfusion. Hemodynamics and cardiac functions were very similar between the DHA-treated and control groups. However, DHA therapy significantly reduced infarct sizes from 56.8 ± 4.9% for controls (n = 12) to 28.8 ± 7.9% (P < 0.01) for DHA-treated animals (n = 11). Compared with controls, DHA-treated animals significantly decreased heart rates and reduced ventricular arrhythmia scores during ischemia. Furthermore, three (25%) control animals experienced eight episodes of ventricular fibrillation (VF), and two died subsequent to unsuccessful defibrillation. In contrast, only 1 (9%) of 11 DHA-treated pigs elicited one episode of VF that was successfully converted via defibrillation to normal rhythm; thus, mortality was reduced from 17% in the controls to 0% in the DHA-treated animals. These data demonstrate that pericardial infusion of n-3 PUFA DHA can significantly reduce both malignant arrhythmias and infarct sizes in a porcine infarct model. Pericardial administration of n-3 PUFAs could represent a novel approach to treating or preventing myocardial infarctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2212-H2218
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Arrhythmia
  • Ischemia-reperfusion
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Pericardium
  • n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid


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