Basic Research in Cardiology

, 112:64 | Cite as

The impact of irreproducibility and competing protection from P2Y12 antagonists on the discovery of cardioprotective interventions

  • Michael V. Cohen
  • James M. Downey
Invited Review


Scientists and clinicians have been concerned by the lack of a clinically suitable strategy for cardioprotection in patients with acute myocardial infarction despite decades of intensive pre-clinical investigations and a surprising number of clinical trials based on those observations which have uniformly been disappointing. However, it would be a mistake to abandon this search. Rather it would be useful to examine these past efforts and determine reasons for the multiple failures. It appears that earlier clinical trials were often based on results from a single experimental laboratory, thus minimizing the importance of establishing reproducibility in multiple laboratories by multiple scientists and in multiple models. Clinical trials should be discouraged unless robust protection is demonstrated in pre-clinical testing. After approximately 2005 a loading dose of a platelet P2Y12 receptor antagonist became increasingly widespread in patients with acute myocardial infarction prior to revascularization and quickly became standard-of-care. These agents are now thought to be a cause of failure of recent clinical trials since these pleiotropic drugs also happen to be potent postconditioning mimetics. Thus, introduction of an additional cardioprotective strategy such as ischemic postconditioning which uses the same signaling pathway as these P2Y12 antagonists would be redundant and doomed to failure. Additive cardioprotection could be achieved only if the second intervention had a different mechanism of cardioprotection. This concept has been demonstrated in experimental animals. So lack of reproducibility of earlier studies and failure to examine interventions in experimental animals also treated with anti-platelet agents could well explain past failures. These realizations should clear the way for development of interventions which can be translated into successful clinical treatments.


Cardioprotection P2Y12 antagonists Postconditioning Preconditioning Reperfusion injury 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Study involving human and/or animal participants

The manuscript does not contain patient data or description of new clinical studies. No new animal studies are described.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, MSB 3050University of South Alabama College of MedicineMobileUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of South Alabama College of MedicineMobileUSA

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