A comparison was made of the severity of chronic doxorubicin cardiotoxicity in adult male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and in genetically related normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). Groups of SHR and WKY were given 12 weekly iv injections of doxorubicin at 0.25, 0.5, or 1.0 mg/kg. When the study was concluded, mean arterial pressure was 127 to 161 nm Hg in doxorubicin-treated SHR compared with 74 to 87 mm Hg in similarly treated WKY. Lesions, consisting mainly of cytoplasmic vacuolization and myofibrillar loss, were noted in the hearts from both types of rats given the 1.0-mg/kg dose and were considerably more severe in SHR than in WKY (average scores 3.8 and 2.0). Renal lesions (glomerular vacuolization and dilatation of tubules with accumulations of proteinaceous material) were of comparable severity in both types of rats at the 9- and 12-mg/kg cumulative doses; however, they were more severe in SHR at the 6-mg/kg cumulative dose. Moderate cardiac alterations were present in all SHR (average score 1.6) given 0.5 mg doxorubicin/kg; at the same dose, lesions were minimal in two and absent in three WKY. In a second study, groups of rats were killed 1 week after 3, 6, 9, or 12 weekly iv injections of doxorubicin (1.0 mg/kg). Myocardial lesions were noted initially in SHR after six doses and in WKY after nine doses. Three of five SHR were dead by the 12th dose. These results indicate that spontaneously hypertensive rats are much more sensitive than normotensive rats to the cardiotoxic effects of doxorubicin.
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