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BACKGROUND: Elafin is a potent endogenous neutrophil elastase inhibitor that protects against myocardial inflammation and injury in preclinical models of ischaemic-reperfusion injury. We investigated whether elafin could inhibit myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury induced during coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. METHODS AND RESULTS: In a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled parallel group clinical trial, 87 patients undergoing CABG surgery were randomised 1:1 to intravenous elafin 200 mg or saline placebo administered after induction of anaesthesia and prior to sternotomy. Myocardial injury was measured as cardiac troponin I release over 48 h (area under the curve (AUC)) and myocardial infarction identified with MRI. Postischaemic inflammation was measured by plasma markers including AUC high-sensitive C reactive protein (hs-CRP) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). Elafin infusion was safe and resulted in >3000-fold increase in plasma elafin concentrations and >50% inhibition of elastase activity in the first 24 h. This did not reduce myocardial injury over 48 h (ratio of geometric means (elafin/placebo) of AUC troponin I 0.74 (95% CI 0.47 to 1.15, p=0.18)) although post hoc analysis of the high-sensitive assay revealed lower troponin I concentrations at 6 h in elafin-treated patients (median 2.4 vs 4.1 μg/L, p=0.035). Elafin had no effect on myocardial infarction (elafin, 7/34 vs placebo, 5/35 patients) or on markers of inflammation: mean differences for AUC hs-CRP of 499 mg/L/48 h (95% CI -207 to 1205, p=0.16), and AUC MPO of 238 ng/mL/48 h (95% CI -235 to 711, p=0.320). CONCLUSIONS: There was no strong evidence that neutrophil elastase inhibition with a single-dose elafin treatment reduced myocardial injury and inflammation following CABG-induced ischaemia-reperfusion injury. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: (EudraCT 2010-019527-58, ISRCTN82061264).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1639 - 1645


Coronary Artery Bypass, Coronary Artery Disease, Double-Blind Method, Elafin, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Infusions, Intravenous, Intraoperative Complications, Intraoperative Period, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine, Myocardial Reperfusion Injury, Protease Inhibitors, Recombinant Proteins, Retrospective Studies