Malignant hyperthermia (MH) is a life-threatening genetic muscle disorder, most commonly triggered inthose at risk by certain types of drugs used during anesthesia. Heat stroke, on the other hand, most commonly occurs in individuals in response to physical exertion in hot/humid environments. While their common triggers may differ, the signs associated with MH and heat stroke are remarkably similar -- uncontrolled muscle contractions, dangerous increases in body temperature, and muscle breakdown leading to the release of toxins in the blood which may cause cardiac arrhythmias and death. Immediate treatment for these conditions is crucial.
The treatment for anesthesia-induced MH is a drug called dantrolene. For heat stroke, options are limited to symptomatic treatment, such as vigorous cooling and hydration. Now, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX), the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY), and the Joslin Diabetes Center (Boston, MA) have shown that a compound called AICAR, previously shown to slow muscle fatigue and increase muscle endurance, is effective in preventing heat stroke in an animal model of the disorder. This animal model is the same one utilized for MH, though the drug did not protect the mice from anesthetic-induced MH. Read more