The isolated perfused rat heart emits a spontaneous ultraweak chemiluminescence. When the perfusion is stopped, light emission decreases, indicating the dependency of this phenomenon on aerobic metabolism. Emitted chemiluminescence was markedly enhanced following perfusion with 0.05 mM H2O2 or cumene hydroperoxide or tert-butyl hydroperoxide; substitution of O2 for N2 in the gassing mixture of the perfusion media significantly lowered photon emission. Lipid peroxidation, which is known to be associated with chemiluminescence, was evaluated by HPLC analysis of peroxidized and unperoxidized heart phosphatidylcholines. During hydroperoxide perfusion, coronary flow and heart rate progressively decreased, while lactic dehydrogenase was released after complete cardiac arrest. The resultant morphology of this damage corresponds to the so-called 'stone heart', a pattern already described in both human and experimental pathology.
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