Background: The aims of this preliminary study were to determine the alteration of serum ischemia-modified albumin (IMA) levels and to investigate whether IMA may be used as an indicator of the cardioprotective efficacy of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in patients undergoing coronary bypass grafting (CABG). Patients and Methods: Forty-four patients were randomized into one of two groups on the basis of cardioplegic strategies, either cold-blood cardioplegia enriched with NAC (50 mg/kg) or cold-blood cardioplegia alone. Serum IMA, cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels determined in NAC-enriched patients before and after CABG were compared with those of the NAC-free group. The albumin cobalt binding assay was used for IMA determination. Results: Serum IMA levels were significantly elevated after cross-clamping and peaked at 6 h after reperfusion in the two groups. In NAC-enriched patients, IMA levels determined 6, 12, 24 and 48 h after reperfusion were significantly lower than those of the NAC-free group (p ≤ 0.001, p < 0.001, p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). IMA returned to baseline 24 h after reperfusion differently from cTnT and MDA in the NAC-enriched group. Conclusions: IMA may be used as not only an indicator of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury, but also as a useful indicator of the cardioprotective effect of NAC in CABG.
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