Hexarelin targets neuroinflammatory pathways to preserve cardiac morphology and function in a mouse model of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion

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McDonald, H
Peart, J
Kurniawan, ND
Galloway, G
Royce, SG
Samuel, CS
Chen, C
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Acute myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury (IRI) underly the detrimental effects of coronary heart disease on the myocardium. Despite the ongoing advances in reperfusion therapies, there remains a lack of effective therapeutic strategies for preventing IRI. Growth hormone secretagogues (GHS) have been demonstrated to improve cardiac function, attenuate inflammation and modulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in models of cardiovascular disease. Recently, we demonstrated a reduction in infarct size after administration of hexarelin (HEX), in a murine model of myocardial infarction. In the present study we employed a reperfused ischemic (IR) model, to determine whether HEX would continue to have a cardioprotective influence in a model of higher clinical relevance. Myocardial ischemia was induced by transient ligation of the left descending coronary artery (tLAD) in C57BL/6 J mice followed by HEX (0.3 mg/kg/day; n = 20) or vehicle (VEH) (n = 18) administration for 21 days, first administered immediately prior-to reperfusion. IR-injured and sham mice were subjected to high-field magnetic resonance imaging to assess left ventricular (LV) function, with HEX-treated mice demonstrating a significant improvement in LV function compared with VEH-treated mice. A significant decrease in interstitial collagen, TGF-β1 expression and myofibroblast differentiation was also seen in the HEX-treated mice after 21 days. HEX treatment shifted the ANS balance towards a parasympathetic predominance; combined with a significant decrease in cardiac troponin-I and TNF-α levels, these findings were suggestive of an anti-inflammatory action on the myocardium mediated via HEX. In this model of IR, HEX appeared to rebalance the deregulated ANS and activate vagal anti-inflammatory pathways to prevent adverse remodelling and LV dysfunction. There are limited interventions focusing on IRI that have been successful in improving clinical outcome in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients, this study provides compelling evidence towards the translational potential of HEX where all others have largely failed.

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Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy

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© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.

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Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences

Autonomic nervous system

Growth hormone secretagogoue


Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion


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McDonald, H; Peart, J; Kurniawan, ND; Galloway, G; Royce, SG; Samuel, CS; Chen, C, Hexarelin targets neuroinflammatory pathways to preserve cardiac morphology and function in a mouse model of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, 2020, 127, pp. 110165:1-110165:11