Recent experimental and clinical observations indicate that over-expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines is actively implicated to chronic heart failure progression through their cytotoxic and negative inotropic effects. Calciumsensitizing agents, such as levosimendan, promotes inotropy by stabilizing troponin C in a configuration that enhances the calcium sensitivity of cardiac myofilaments, preserving also diastolic relaxation. Levosimendan also opens ATPdependent potassium channels in peripheral vessels, leading to vasodilatation. Large scale randomized clinical trials have shown that levosimendan administration in patients with severe heart failure due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction results in favorable hemodynamic changes, symptomatic benefit, and a reduction in short-term morbidity and mortality. This review describes current knowledge about novel cellular mechanisms associated with beneficial effects of levosimendan on cardiac contractile performance, focusing mainly on its immunomodulatory and anti-apoptotic properties. Levosimendan-induced improvement in contractile reserve and clinical status of severe heart failure patients, seems to be related with the reduction of major pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6) and soluble apoptosis signaling molecules Fas/Fas Ligand. Modulation of pro-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic pathways into the failing heart by levosimendan may be an additional pathophysiologic mechanism that prevents further clinical and hemodynamic consequences of abnormal immune responses in decompensated heart failure and beneficially affects the progression of the syndrome.
Keywords: inotropes, calcium sensitizers, decompensated heart failure, novel pathophysiologic mechanisms, cytokines, apoptosis
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