Aims: Cardiac ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury remains a critical issue in the therapeutic management of ischaemic heart failure. Although mild hypothermia has a protective effect on cardiac I/R injury, more rapid and safe methods that can obtain similar results to hypothermia therapy are required. 2-Methyl-2-thiazoline (2MT), an innate fear inducer, causes mild hypothermia resulting in resistance to critical hypoxia in cutaneous or cerebral I/R injury. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the protective effect of systemically administered 2MT on cardiac I/R injury and to elucidate the mechanism underlying this effect. Methods and results: A single subcutaneous injection of 2MT (50 mg/kg) was given prior to reperfusion of the I/R injured 10 week-old male mouse heart and its efficacy was evaluated 24 h after the ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. 2MT preserved left ventricular systolic function following I/R injury (ejection fraction, %: control 37.9 ± 6.7, 2MT 54.1 ± 6.4, P < 0.01). 2MT also decreased infarct size (infarct size/ischaemic area at risk, %: control 48.3 ± 12.1, 2MT 25.6 ± 4.2, P < 0.05) and serum cardiac troponin levels (ng/mL: control 8.9 ± 1.1, 2MT 1.9 ± 0.1, P < 0.01) after I/R. Moreover, 2MT reduced the oxidative stress-exposed area within the heart (%: control 25.3 ± 4.7, 2MT 10.8 ± 1.4, P < 0.01). These results were supported by microarray analysis of the mouse hearts. 2MT induced a transient, mild decrease in core body temperature (°C: −2.4 ± 1.4), which gradually recovered over several hours. Metabolome analysis of the mouse hearts suggested that 2MT minimized energy metabolism towards suppressing oxidative stress. Furthermore, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging revealed that 2MT reduced the activity of brown adipose tissue (standardized uptake value: control 24.3 ± 6.4, 2MT 18.4 ± 5.8, P < 0.05). 2MT also inhibited mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in rat cardiomyoblasts. Conclusions: We identified the cardioprotective effect of systemically administered 2MT on cardiac I/R injury by sparing energy metabolism with reversible hypothermia. Our results highlight the potential of drug-induced hypothermia therapy as an adjunct to coronary intervention in severe ischaemic heart disease.
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