The plant-derived flavonoid, quercetin (QCT), has many biological actions, including cardioprotective actions, resulting from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In this study, effects of QCT and its metabolites on the contraction and Ca2+ transients (CaT) of mouse single cardiomyocytes were simultaneously measured and compared with those of isoproterenol and digoxin. Furthermore, cardiac function and plasma concentrations were analyzed after bolus intravenous administration of QCT in mice. QCT and its metabolite, tamarixetin, as well as isoproterenol and digoxin, enhanced the contraction and CaT of cardiomyocytes. The inotropic action of isoproterenol was accompanied by an increase in the velocities of sarcomere shortening and relengthening and CaT decay through activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase; however, no such lusitropic effects accompanied the inotropic action of QCT, tamarixetin or digoxin. Intravenous administration of QCT to mice resulted in a sustained increase in cardiac systolic function; QCT was rapidly metabolized to tamarixetin and its plasma concentration was maintained at high levels over a similar time frame as the enhancement of cardiac systolic function. These results suggest that QCT exerts a cardiotonic action in vivo at least, in part, through digitalis-like enhancement of CaT by itself and its metabolite tamarixetin.
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