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1.  Quercetin postconditioning attenuates myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury in rats through the PI3K/Akt pathway 
Quercetin (Que), a plant-derived flavonoid, has multiple benefical actions on the cardiovascular system. The current study investigated whether Que postconditioning has any protective effects on myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in vivo and its potential cardioprotective mechanisms. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly allocated to 5 groups (20 animals/group): sham, I/R, Que postconditioning, Que+LY294002 [a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway inhibitor], and LY294002+I/R. I/R was produced by 30-min coronary occlusion followed by 2-h reperfusion. At the end of reperfusion, myocardial infarct size and biochemical changes were compared. Apoptosis was evaluated by both TUNEL staining and measurement of activated caspase-3 immunoreactivity. The phosphorylation of Akt and protein expression of Bcl-2 and Bax were determined by Western blotting. Que postconditioning significantly reduced infarct size and serum levels of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase compared with the I/R group (all P<0.05). Apoptotic cardiomyocytes and caspase-3 immunoreactivity were also suppressed in the Que postconditioning group compared with the I/R group (both P<0.05). Akt phosphorylation and Bcl-2 expression increased after Que postconditioning, but Bax expression decreased. These effects were inhibited by LY294002. The data indicate that Que postconditioning can induce cardioprotection by activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and modulating the expression of Bcl-2 and Bax proteins.
PMCID: PMC3854307  PMID: 24068165
Ischemia and reperfusion; Quercetin; Postconditioning; PI3K/Akt
2.  Sevoflurane postconditioning reduces myocardial reperfusion injury in rat isolated hearts via activation of PI3K/Akt signaling and modulation of Bcl-2 family proteins*  
Sevoflurane postconditioning reduces myocardial infarct size. The objective of this study was to examine the role of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in anesthetic postconditioning and to determine whether PI3K/Akt signaling modulates the expression of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins in sevoflurane postconditioning. Isolated and perfused rat hearts were prepared first, and then randomly assigned to the following groups: Sham-operation (Sham), ischemia/reperfusion (Con), sevoflurane postconditioning (SPC), Sham plus 100 nmol/L wortmannin (Sham+Wort), Con+Wort, SPC+Wort, and Con+dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO). Sevoflurane postconditioning was induced by administration of sevoflurane (2.5%, v/v) for 10 min from the onset of reperfusion. Left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP), left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP), maximum increase in rate of LVDP (+dP/dt), maximum decrease in rate of LVDP (−dP/dt), heart rate (HR), and coronary flow (CF) were measured at baseline, R30 min (30 min of reperfusion), R60 min, R90 min, and R120 min. Creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were measured after 5 min and 10 min reperfusion. Infarct size was determined by triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining at the end of reperfusion. Total Akt and phosphorylated Akt (phospho-Akt), Bax, Bcl-2, Bad, and phospho-Bad were determined by Western blot analysis. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Student-Newman-Keuls’ test were used to investigate the significance of differences between groups. The LVDP, ±dP/dt, and CF were higher and LVEDP was lower in the SPC group than in the Con group at all points of reperfusion (P<0.05). The SPC group had significantly reduced CK and LDH release and decreased infarct size compared with the Con group [(22.9±8)% vs. (42.4±9.4)%, respectively; P<0.05]. The SPC group also had increased the expression of phosphor-Akt, Bcl-2, and phospho-Bad, and decreased the expression of Bax. Wortmannin abolished the cardioprotection of sevoflurane postconditioning. Sevoflurane postconditioning may protect the isolated rat heart. Activation of PI3K and modulation of the expression of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins may play an important role in sevoflurane-induced myocardial protection.
PMCID: PMC2932876  PMID: 20803770
Sevoflurane; Postconditioning; Cardioprotection; Akt; Bcl-2; Bad
3.  Protection of ghrelin postconditioning on hypoxia/reoxygenation in gastric epithelial cells 
AIM: To investigate the protective effect and mechanisms of ghrelin postconditioning against hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced injury in human gastric epithelial cells.
METHODS: The model of H/R injury was established in gastric epithelial cell line (GES-1) human gastric epithelial cells. Cells were divided into seven groups: normal control group (N); H/R postconditioning group; DMSO postconditioning group (DM); ghrelin postconditioning group (GH); D-Lys3-GHRP-6 + ghrelin postconditioning group (D + GH); capsazepine + ghrelin postconditioning group (C + GH); and LY294002 + ghrelin postconditioning group (L + GH). 3-(4,5-dimethylthazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was used to detect GES-1 cell viability. Hoechst 33258 fluorochrome staining and flow cytometry were conducted to determine apoptosis of GES-1 cells. Spectrophotometry was performed to determine release of lactate dehydrogenate (LDH). Protein expression of Bcl-2, Bax, Akt, and glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β was determined by western blotting. Expression of vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1), Akt and GSK-3β was observed by immunocytochemistry.
RESULTS: Compared with the H/R group, cell viability of the GH group was significantly increased in a dose-dependent manner (55.9% ± 10.0% vs 69.6% ± 9.6%, 71.9% ± 17.4%, and 76.3% ± 13.3%). Compared with the H/R group, the percentage of apoptotic cells in the GH group significantly decreased (12.38% ± 1.51% vs 6.88% ± 0.87%). Compared with the GH group, the percentage of apoptotic cells in the D + GH group, C + GH group and L + GH groups significantly increased (11.70% ± 0.88%, 11.93% ± 0.96%, 10.20% ± 1.05% vs 6.88% ± 0.87%). There were no significant differences in the percentage of apoptotic cells between the H/R and DM groups (12.38% ± 1.51% vs13.00% ± 1.13%). There was a significant decrease in LDH release following ghrelin postconditioning compared with the H/R group (561.58 ± 64.01 U/L vs 1062.45 ± 105.29 U/L). There was a significant increase in LDH release in the D + GH, C + GH and L + GH groups compared with the GH group (816.89 ± 94.87 U/L, 870.95 ± 64.06 U/L, 838.62 ± 118.45 U/L vs 561.58 ± 64.01 U/L). There were no significant differences in LDH release between the H/R and DM groups (1062.45 ± 105.29 U/L vs 1017.65 ± 68.90 U/L). Compared with the H/R group, expression of Bcl-2 and Akt increased in the GH group, whereas expression of Bax and GSK-3β decreased. Compared with the GH group, expression of Bcl-2 decreased and Bax increased in the D + GH, C + GH and L + GH groups, and Akt decreased and GSK-3β increased in the L + GH group. The H/R group also upregulated expression of VR1 and GSK-3β and downregulated Akt. The number of VR1-positive and Akt-positive cells in the GH group significantly increased, whereas the number of GSK-3β-positive cells significantly decreased. These effects of ghrelin were reversed by capsazepine and LY294002.
CONCLUSION: Ghrelin postconditioning protected against H/R-induced injury in human gastric epithelial cells, which indicated that this protection might be associated with GHS-R, VR1 and the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3471106  PMID: 23082054
Human gastric epithelial cells; Ghrelin; Pharmacological postconditioning; Hypoxia/reoxygenation; Apoptosis
4.  The NCX3 isoform of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger contributes to neuroprotection elicited by ischemic postconditioning 
It has been recently shown that a short sublethal brain ischemia subsequent to a prolonged harmful ischemic episode may confer ischemic neuroprotection, a phenomenon termed ischemic postconditioning. Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) isoforms, NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3, are plasma membrane ionic transporters widely distributed in the brain and involved in the control of Na+ and Ca2+ homeostasis and in the progression of stroke damage. The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of these three proteins in the postconditioning-induced neuroprotection. The NCX protein and mRNA expression was evaluated at different time points in the ischemic temporoparietal cortex of rats subjected to tMCAO alone or to tMCAO plus ischemic postconditioning. The results of this study showed that NCX3 protein and ncx3 mRNA were upregulated in those brain regions protected by postconditioning treatment. These changes in NCX3 expression were mediated by the phosphorylated form of the ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine protein kinase p-AKT, as the p-AKT inhibition prevented NCX3 upregulation. The relevant role of NCX3 during postconditioning was further confirmed by results showing that NCX3 silencing, induced by intracerebroventricular infusion of small interfering RNA (siRNA), partially reverted the postconditioning-induced neuroprotection. The results of this study support the idea that the enhancement of NCX3 expression and activity might represent a reasonable strategy to reduce the infarct extension after stroke.
PMCID: PMC3049459  PMID: 20628398
AKT; NCX; neuroprotection; postconditioning; sodium/calcium exchanger
5.  Remote Limb Ischemic Postconditioning Protects Against Neonatal Hypoxic–Ischemic Brain Injury in Rat Pups by the Opioid Receptor/Akt Pathway 
Background and Purpose
Remote ischemic postconditoning, a phenomenon in which brief ischemic stimuli of 1 organ protect another organ against an ischemic insult, has been demonstrated to protect the myocardium and adult brain in animal models. However, mediators of the protection and underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that remote limb ischemic postconditioning applied immediately after hypoxia provides neuroprotection in a rat model of neonatal hypoxia–ischemia (HI) by mechanisms involving activation of the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
HI was induced in postnatal Day 10 rat pups by unilateral carotid ligation and 2 hours of hypoxia. Limb ischemic postconditioning was induced by 4 conditioning cycles of 10 minutes of ischemia and reperfusion on both hind limbs immediately after HI. The opioid antagonist naloxone, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin, or opioid agonist morphine was administered to determine underlying mechanisms. Infarct volume, brain atrophy, and neurological outcomes after HI were evaluated. Expression of phosphorylated Akt, Bax, and phosphorylated ERK1/2 was determined by Western blotting.
Limb ischemic postconditioning significantly reduced infarct volume at 48 hours and improved functional outcomes at 4 weeks after HI. Naloxone and wortmannin abrogated the postconditioning-mediated infarct-limiting effect. Morphine given immediately after hypoxia also decreased infarct volume. Furthermore, limb ischemic postconditioning recovered Akt activity and decreased Bax expression, whereas no differences in phosphorylated ERK1/2expression were observed.
Limb ischemic postconditioning protects against neonatal HI brain injury in rats by activating the opioid receptor/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3703505  PMID: 21183744
Akt; limb ischemic postconditioning; neonatal hypoxia–ischemia; opioid receptor
6.  Ischemic postconditioning as a novel avenue to protect against brain injury after stroke 
Ischemic postconditioning initially referred to a stuttering reperfusion performed immediately after reperfusion, for preventing ischemia/reperfusion injury in both myocardial and cerebral infarction. It has evolved into a concept that can be induced by a broad range of stimuli or triggers, and may even be performed as late as 6 h after focal ischemia and 2 days after transient global ischemia. The concept is thought to be derived from ischemic preconditioning or partial/gradual reperfusion, but in fact the first experiment for postconditioning was carried out much earlier than that of preconditioning or partial/gradual reperfusion, in the research on myocardial ischemia. This review first examines the protective effects and parameters of postconditioning in various cerebral ischemic models. Thereafter, it provides insights into the protective mechanisms of postconditioning associated with reperfusion injury and the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), protein kinase C (PKC), and ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channel cell signaling pathways. Finally, some open issues and future challenges regarding clinical translation of postconditioning are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2736291  PMID: 19240739
cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection; preconditioning; postconditioning; stroke
7.  The mTOR Cell Signaling Pathway Contributes to the Protective Effects of Ischemic Postconditioning Against Stroke 
Background and Purpose
Whether the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is protective against brain injury from stroke or is detrimental is controversial, and whether it is involved in the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning against stroke is unreported. Our study focuses on the protective role of mTOR against neuronal injury after stroke with and without ischemic postconditioning.
We used both an in vitro oxygen-glucose deprivation model with a mixed neuronal culture and hypoxic postconditioning, as well as an in vivo stroke model with ischemic postconditioning. Rapamycin, a specific pharmacological inhibitor of mTOR, and mTOR short hairpin RNA (shRNA) lentiviral vectors were used to inhibit mTOR activity. A lentiviral vector expressing S6K1, a downstream molecule of mTOR, was used to confirm the protective effects of mTOR. Infarct sizes were measured and protein levels were examined by Western blot.
We report that stroke resulted in reduced levels of phosphorylated proteins in the mTOR pathway, including S6K1, S6, and 4EBP1, and that ischemic postconditioning increased these proteins. mTOR inhibition, both by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin and by mTOR shRNA, worsened ischemic outcomes in vitro and in vivo, and abolished the protective effects of hypoxic postconditioning and ischemic postconditioning on neuronal death in vitro and brain injury size in vivo. Overexpression of S6K1 mediated by lentiviral vectors significantly attenuated brain infarction.
mTOR plays a crucial protective role in brain damage after stroke and contributes to the protective effects of ischemic postconditioning.
PMCID: PMC4146669  PMID: 25013017
ischemic postconditioning; stroke; mTOR; S6K1
8.  Isoflurane postconditioning induces neuroprotection via Akt activation and attenuation of increased mitochondrial membrane permeability 
Neuroscience  2011;199:44-50.
We have shown that isoflurane application at the onset of reperfusion (postconditioning) reduces brain ischemic injury in rats. This study was designed to determine whether this protection involved activation of prosurvival protein kinases and maintenance of normal mitochondrial membrane permeability. Two-month old male rats were subjected to a 90-min middle cerebral arterial occlusion. They then were exposed or were not exposed to 2% isoflurane for 1 h. Ischemic penumbral cerebral cortex was harvested immediately and separated into the mitochondrial and cytosolic fractions. We showed that the mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide content in the ischemic penumbral cortex was significantly reduced, suggesting an increased mitochondrial membrane permeability. This increase was partly attenuated by isoflurane postconditioning. The mitochondrial adenosine diphosphate content in the penumbral cortex was reduced no matter whether the animals were postconditioned with isoflurane. The mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate concentration was not different among various experimental conditions. The phospho-Akt in the cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions of the ischemic penumbral cortex was higher than that in the control cortex. This increase trended to be higher in animals with isoflurane postconditioning. A similar change pattern was observed in the mitochondrial phospho-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt substrate that can regulate the mitochondrial membrane permeability. Isoflurane postconditioning reduced oxygen-glucose deprivation-induced injury of rat cortical neuronal cultures and increased phospho-Akt in these cells. The isoflurane postconditioning-induced protection in the neuronal cultures was decreased by the Akt inhibitor LY294002. These results suggest that isoflurane postconditioning effects may be mediated by Akt and involve reduced mitochondrial membrane permeability.
PMCID: PMC3237819  PMID: 22040798
Akt; glycogen synthase kinase 3β; isoflurane; neuroprotection; mitochondrial membrane permeability; postconditioning
9.  Protection of Ischemic Postconditioning against Neuronal Apoptosis Induced by Transient Focal Ischemia Is Associated with Attenuation of NF-κB/p65 Activation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96734.
Background and Purpose
Accumulating evidences have demonstrated that nuclear factor κB/p65 plays a protective role in the protection of ischemic preconditioning and detrimental role in lethal ischemia-induced programmed cell death including apoptosis and autophagic death. However, its role in the protection of ischemic postconditioning is still unclear.
Rat MCAO model was used to produce transient focal ischemia. The procedure of ischemic postconditioning consisted of three cycles of 30 seconds reperfusion/reocclusion of MCA. The volume of cerebral infarction was measured by TTC staining and neuronal apoptosis was detected by TUNEL staining. Western blotting was used to analyze the changes in protein levels of Caspase-3, NF-κB/p65, phosphor- NF-κB/p65, IκBα, phosphor- IκBα, Noxa, Bim and Bax between rats treated with and without ischemic postconditioning. Laser scanning confocal microscopy was used to examine the distribution of NF-κB/p65 and Noxa.
Ischemic postconditioning made transient focal ischemia-induced infarct volume decrease obviously from 38.6%±5.8% to 23.5%±4.3%, and apoptosis rate reduce significantly from 46.5%±6.2 to 29.6%±5.3% at reperfusion 24 h following 2 h focal cerebral ischemia. Western blotting analysis showed that ischemic postconditioning suppressed markedly the reduction of NF-κB/p65 in cytoplasm, but elevated its content in nucleus either at reperfusion 6 h or 24 h. Moreover, the decrease of IκBα and the increase of phosphorylated IκBα and phosphorylated NF-κB/p65 at indicated reperfusion time were reversed by ischemic postconditioning. Correspondingly, proapoptotic proteins Caspase-3, cleaved Caspase-3, Noxa, Bim and Bax were all mitigated significantly by ischemic postconditioning. Confocal microscopy revealed that ischemic postconditioning not only attenuated ischemia-induced translocation of NF-κB/p65 from neuronal cytoplasm to nucleus, but also inhibited the abnormal expression of proapoptotic protein Noxa within neurons.
We demonstrated in this study that the protection of ischemic postconditioning on neuronal apoptosis caused by transient focal ischemia is associated with attenuation of the activation of NF-κB/p65 in neurons.
PMCID: PMC4011781  PMID: 24800741
Brain research  2010;1358:184-190.
The volatile anesthetic isoflurane is capable of inducing preconditioning and postconditioning effects in the brain. However, the mechanisms for these neuroprotective effects are not fully understood. Here, we showed that rat hippocampal neuronal cultures exposed to 2% isoflurane for 30 min at 24 h before a 1-h oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) and a 24-h simulated reperfusion had a reduced lactate dehydrogenase release. Similarly, this OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced lactate dehydrogenase release was attenuated by exposing the neuronal cultures to 2% isoflurane for 1 h at various times after the onset of the simulated reperfusion (isoflurane postconditioning). The combination of isoflurane preconditioning and postconditioning induced a better neuroprotection than either alone. Inhibition of the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), inhibition of N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, or activation of adenosine A2A receptors resulted in reduction of the OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced cell injury. The combination of CaMKII inhibition and isoflurane preconditioning or postconditioning did not provide better protection than CaMKII inhibition, isoflurane preconditioning, or isoflurane postconditioning alone. The combination of NMDA receptor inhibition and isoflurane postconditioning was not better than NMDA receptor inhibition or isoflurane postconditioning alone for neuroprotection. However, the combination of adenosine A2A receptor activation with either isoflurane preconditioning or isoflurane postconditioning induced a better neuroprotective effect than adenosine A2A receptor activation, isoflurane preconditioning, or isoflurane postconditioning alone. The combination of NMDA receptor inhibition and isoflurane preconditioning caused a better neuroprotective effect than NMDA receptor inhibition or isoflurane preconditioning alone. These results suggest that isoflurane preconditioning- and postconditioning-induced neuroprotection can be additive. Isoflurane preconditioning and isoflurane postconditioning may involve CaMKII inhibition, but may not involve adenosine A2A receptor activation. Inhibition of NMDA receptors may mediate the effects of isoflurane postconditioning, but not isoflurane preconditioning.
PMCID: PMC2949531  PMID: 20709037
calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; isoflurane; neuron; preconditioning; postconditioning
11.  From Rapid to Delayed and Remote Postconditioning: the Evolving Concept of Ischemic Postconditioning in Brain Ischemia 
Current Drug Targets  2012;13(2):173-187.
Ischemic postconditioning is a concept originally defined to contrast with that of ischemic preconditioning. While both preconditioning and postconditioning confer a neuroprotective effect on brain ischemia, preconditioning is a sublethal insult performed in advance of brain ischemia, and postconditioning, which conventionally refers to a series of brief occlusions and reperfusions of the blood vessels, is conducted after ischemia/reperfusion. In this article, we first briefly review the history of preconditioning, including the experimentation that initially uncovered its neuroprotective effects and later revealed its underlying mechanisms-of-action. We then discuss how preconditioning research evolved into that of postconditioning – a concept that now represents a broad range of stimuli or triggers, including delayed postconditioning, pharmacological postconditioning, remote postconditioning – and its underlying protective mechanisms involving the Akt, MAPK, PKC and KATP channel cell-signaling pathways. Because the concept of postconditioning is so closely associated with that of preconditioning, and both share some common protective mechanisms, we also discuss whether a combination of preconditioning and postconditioning offers greater protection than preconditioning or postconditioning alone.
PMCID: PMC3346695  PMID: 22204317
postconditioning; preconditioning; stroke; cerebral ischemia; focal ischemia; neuroprotection
12.  Hypercholesterolemic Myocardium Is Vulnerable to Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury and Refractory to Sevoflurane-Induced Protection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76652.
Recent studies have demonstrated that volatile anesthetic postconditioning confers myocardial protection against ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury through activation of the reperfusion injury salvage kinase (RISK) pathway. As RISK has been shown to be impaired in hypercholesterolemia. Therefore, we investigate whether anesthetic-induced cardiac protection was maintained in hypercholesterolemic rats. In the present study, normocholesteolemic or hypercholesterolemic rat hearts were subjected to 30 min of ischemia and 2 h of reperfusion. Animals received 2.4% sevoflurane for 5 min or 3 cycles of 10-s ischemia/10-s reperfusion. The hemodynamic parameters, including left ventricular developed pressure, left ventricular end-diastolic pressure and heart rate, were continuously monitored. The infarct size, apoptosis, p-Akt, p-ERK1/2, p-GSK3β were determined. We found that both sevoflurane and ischemic postconditioning significantly improved heart pump function, reduced infarct size and increased the phosphorylation of Akt, ERK1/2 and their downstream target of GSK3β in the healthy rats. In the hypercholesterolemic rats, neither sevoflurane nor ischemic postconditioning improved left ventricular hemodynamics, reduced infarct size and increased the phosphorylated Akt, ERK1/2 and GSK3β. In contrast, GSK inhibitor SB216763 conferred cardioprotection against IR injury in healthy and hypercholesterolemic hearts. In conclusions, hyperchoesterolemia abrogated sevoflurane-induced cardioprotection against IR injury by alteration of upstream signaling of GSK3β and acute GSK inhibition may provide a novel therapeutic strategy to protect hypercholesterolemic hearts against IR injury.
PMCID: PMC3790738  PMID: 24124583
13.  Volatile anesthetic post-treatment induces protection via inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β in human neuron-like cells 
Neuroscience  2011;179:73-79.
Application of the volatile anesthetic isoflurane during the early phase of reperfusion reduces ischemic heart and brain injury (anesthetic postconditioning). We hypothesize that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), a protein whose activation can lead to cell death, participates in anesthetic postconditioning-induced neuroprotection. SH-SY5Y cells, a human neuroblastoma cell line, were induced by retinoic acid to differentiate into terminal neuron-like cells. The cells then were subjected to a 1-h oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD), a condition to simulate ischemia in vitro, and a 20-h simulated reperfusion. Isoflurane, sevoflurane or desflurane, three commonly used volatile anesthetics, was applied for 1 h during the early phase of simulated reperfusion. Cell injury was quantified by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. Phospho-GSK3β at Ser9 and total GSK3β were quantified at 1 or 3 h after the OGD. OGD increased LDH release, suggesting that OGD induced cell injury. Post-treatment with isoflurane, sevoflurane or desflurane reduced this cell injury. This protection was apparent when 2% isoflurane was applied within 1 h after the onset of reperfusion. Isoflurane post-treatment also significantly increased the phosphorylation of GSK3β at Ser9 at 1 h after the OGD. GSK3β inhibitors reduced OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced LDH release. The combination of GSK3β inhibitors and isoflurane postconditioning did not cause a greater protection than isoflurane postconditioning alone. These results suggest that volatile anesthetic postconditioning reduces OGD and simulated reperfusion-induced cell injury. Since phospho-GSK3β at Ser9 decreases GSK3β activity, our results suggest that volatile anesthetic postconditioning in human neuron-like cells may be mediated by GSK3β inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3059391  PMID: 21277352
glycogen synthase kinase 3β; human neuron-like cell; neuroprotection; postconditioning; volatile anesthetics
14.  δPKC inhibition or εPKC activation repairs endothelial vascular dysfunction by regulating eNOS post-translational modification 
The balance between endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-derived nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production determines endothelial-mediated vascular homeostasis. Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) has been linked to imbalance of the eNOS/ROS system, which leads to endothelial dysfunction. We previously found that selective inhibition of delta PKC (δPKC) or selective activation of epsilon PKC (εPKC) reduces oxidative damage in the heart following myocardial infarction. In this study we determined the effect of these PKC isozymes in the survival of coronary endothelial cells (CVEC). We demonstrate here that serum deprivation of CVEC increased eNOS-mediated ROS levels, activated caspase-3, reduced Akt phosphorylation and cell number. Treatment with either the δPKC inhibitor, δV1-1, or the εPKC activator, ψεRACK, inhibited these effects, restoring cell survival through inhibition of eNOS activity. The decrease in eNOS activity coincided with specific de-phosphorylation of eNOS at Ser1179, and eNOS phosphorylation at Thr497 and Ser116. Furthermore, δV1-1 or ψεRACK induced physical association of eNOS with caveolin-1, an additional marker of eNOS inhibition, and restored Akt activation by inhibiting its nitration. Together our data demonstrate that 1) in endothelial dysfunction, ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) formation result from uncontrolled eNOS activity mediated by activation of δPKC or inhibition of εPKC 2) inhibition of δPKC or activation of εePKC correct the perturbed phosphorylation state of eNOS, thus increasing cell survival. Since endothelial health ensures better tissue perfusion and oxygenation, treatment with a δPKC inhibitor and/or an εPKC activator in diseases of endothelial dysfunction should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3760592  PMID: 19913548
15.  Protective Effects of Shen-Yuan-Dan, a Traditional Chinese Medicine, against Myocardial Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury In Vivo and In Vitro 
Objectives. The study was to investigate the effects and mechanisms of Shen-Yuan-Dan (SYD) pharmacological postconditioning on myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Methods. In the in vivo experiment, myocardial injury markers and histopathology staining were examined. In the in vitro experiment, cell viability and cell apoptosis were, respectively, detected by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays and Hoechst 33342 fluorochrome staining. The protein expressions of Bcl-2 and Bax were determined by immunocytochemistry assay. Results. Both low and high doses of SYD protected myocardium against I/R injury in rat model by reducing lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) and creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) content, increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and attenuating histopathology injury. Meanwhile, in the in vitro experiment, SYD promoted cell viability and inhibited the cardiomyocyte apoptosis. The level of Bcl-2 protein was restored to the normal level by SYD pharmacological postconditioning. In contrast, the Bax protein level was markedly reduced by SYD pharmacological postconditioning. These effects of SYD were inhibited by LY294002. Conclusions. The results of this study suggested that SYD pharmacological postconditioning has protective effects against myocardial I/R injury in both in vivo and in vitro models, which are related to activating the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) pathway.
PMCID: PMC3885196  PMID: 24454518
16.  The cardioprotection of the late phase of ischemic preconditioning is enhanced by postconditioning via a COX-2-mediated mechanism in conscious rats 
The present study sought to determine whether the combination of late preconditioning (PC) with postconditioning enhances the reduction in infarct size. Chronically instrumented rats were assigned to a 45-min (subset 1) or 60-min (subset 2) coronary occlusion followed by 24 h of reperfusion. In each subset, rats received no further intervention (control) or were preconditioned 24 h before occlusion (PC), post-conditioned at the onset of reperfusion following occlusion, or pre-conditioned and postconditioned without (PC + postconditioning) or with the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (3 mg/kg ip; PC + postconditioning + celecoxib) 10 min before postconditioning. Myocardial cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein expression and COX-2 activity (assessed as myocardial levels of PGE2) were measured 6 min after reperfusion in an additional five groups (control, PC, postconditioning, PC + postconditioning, and PC + postconditioning + celecoxib) subjected to a 45-min occlusion. PC alone reduced infarct size after a 45-min occlusion but not after a 60-min occlusion. Postconditioning alone did not reduce infarct size in either setting. However, the combination of late PC and postconditioning resulted in a robust infarct-sparing effect in both settings, suggesting additive cardioprotection. Celecoxib completely abrogated the infarct-sparing effect of the combined interventions in both settings. Late PC increased COX-2 protein expression and PGE2 content. PGE2 content (but not COX-2 protein) was further increased by the combination of both interventions, suggesting that postconditioning increases the activity of COX-2 induced by late PC. In conclusion, the combination of late PC and postconditioning produces additive protection, likely due to a postconditioning-induced enhancement of COX-2 activity.
PMCID: PMC3713472  PMID: 17704286
myocardium; ischemia; infarct size; cyclooxygenase-2
17.  Cyclic GMP and protein kinase-G in myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion: opportunities and obstacles for survival signaling 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2007;152(6):855-869.
It is clear that multiple signalling pathways regulate the critical balance between cell death and survival in myocardial ischaemia–reperfusion. Recent attention has focused on the activation of survival or salvage kinases, particularly during reperfusion, as a common mechanism of many cardioprotective interventions. The phosphatidyl inositol 3′-hydroxy kinase/Akt complex (PI3K/Akt) and p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades have been widely promoted in this respect but the cyclic guanosine 3′,5′-monophosphate/cGMP-dependent protein kinase (cGMP/PKG) signal transduction cassette has been less systematically investigated as a survival cascade. We propose that activation of the cGMP/PKG signalling pathway, following activation of soluble or particulate guanylate cyclases, may play a pivotal role in survival signalling in ischaemia–reperfusion, especially in the classical preconditioning, delayed preconditioning and postconditioning paradigms. The resurgence of interest in reperfusion injury, largely as a result of postconditioning-related research, has confirmed that the cGMP/PKG pathway is a pivotal salvage mechanism in reperfusion. Numerous studies suggest that the infarct-limiting effects of preconditioning and postconditioning, exogenously donated nitric oxide (NO), natriuretic peptides, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, and other diverse drugs and mediators such as HMG co-A reductase inhibitors (statins), Rho-kinase inhibitors and adrenomedullin, whether given before and during ischaemia, or specifically at the onset of reperfusion, may be mediated by activation or enhancement of the cGMP pathway, either directly or indirectly via endogenous NO generation downstream of PI3K/Akt. Putative mechanisms of protection include PKG regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis through the modification of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake mechanisms, and PKG-induced opening of ATP-sensitive K+ channels during ischaemia and/or reperfusion. At present, significant technical obstacles in defining the precise roles played by cGMP/PKG signalling include the heavy reliance on pharmacological PKG inhibitors of uncertain selectivity, difficulties in determining PKG activity in intact tissue, and the growing recognition that intracellular compartmentalisation of the cGMP pool may contribute markedly to the nucleotide's biological actions and biochemical determination. Overall, the body of experimental evidence suggests that cGMP/PKG survival signalling ameliorates irreversible injury associated with ischaemia–reperfusion and may be a tractable therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC2078226  PMID: 17700722
atrial natriuretic peptide; B-type natriuretic peptide; cyclic guanosine 3′,5′-monophosphate; myocardial infarction; nitric oxide; nitric oxide synthase; particulate guanylate cyclase; cGMP-dependent protein kinase; soluble guanylate cyclase
18.  Ischaemic preconditioning improves proteasomal activity and increases the degradation of δPKC during reperfusion 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;85(2):385-394.
The response of the myocardium to an ischaemic insult is regulated by two highly homologous protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes, δ and εPKC. Here, we determined the spatial and temporal relationships between these two isozymes in the context of ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) and ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) to better understand their roles in cardioprotection.
Methods and results
Using an ex vivo rat model of myocardial infarction, we found that short bouts of ischaemia and reperfusion prior to the prolonged ischaemic event (IPC) diminished δPKC translocation by 3.8-fold and increased εPKC accumulation at mitochondria by 16-fold during reperfusion. In addition, total cellular levels of δPKC decreased by 60 ± 2.7% in response to IPC, whereas the levels of εPKC did not significantly change. Prolonged ischaemia induced a 48 ± 11% decline in the ATP-dependent proteasomal activity and increased the accumulation of misfolded proteins during reperfusion by 192 ± 32%; both of these events were completely prevented by IPC. Pharmacological inhibition of the proteasome or selective inhibition of εPKC during IPC restored δPKC levels at the mitochondria while decreasing εPKC levels, resulting in a loss of IPC-induced protection from I/R. Importantly, increased myocardial injury was the result, in part, of restoring a δPKC-mediated I/R pro-apoptotic phenotype by decreasing pro-survival signalling and increasing cytochrome c release into the cytosol.
Taken together, our findings indicate that IPC prevents I/R injury at reperfusion by protecting ATP-dependent 26S proteasomal function. This decreases the accumulation of the pro-apoptotic kinase, δPKC, at cardiac mitochondria, resulting in the accumulation of the pro-survival kinase, εPKC.
PMCID: PMC2797452  PMID: 19820255
Cardioprotection; Ischaemia/reperfusion; Apoptosis; Proteasome; PKC; Ischaemic preconditioning
19.  Pharmacological postconditioning with diazoxide attenuates ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury in rat liver 
It has been demonstrated that ischemic postconditioning (IPO) is capable of attenuating ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in the heart. However, the novel role of pharmacological postconditioning in the liver remains unclear. In this study, the hypothesis that diazoxide postconditioning reduces I/R-induced injury in rat liver was tested. Rats were assigned randomly to the sham-operated control, I/R (occlusion of the porta hepatis for 60 min, followed by a persistent reperfusion for 120 min), diazoxide ischemic postconditioning (DIPO; occlusion of the porta hepatis for 60 min, then treatment with diazoxide for 10 min reperfusion, followed by a persistent reperfusion for 110 min) or 5-hydroxydecanoate (5-HD)+DIPO (occlusion of the porta hepatis for 60 min, then treatment with diazoxide and 5-HD for 10 min reperfusion, followed by a persistent reperfusion for 110 min) groups. The alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels were assayed. The expression levels of protein kinase c-ε (pkc-ε), cytochrome c (cyt-c), caspase-3 and bcl-2 protein were determined by western blotting. The serum levels of ALT and AST and expression levels of cyt-c and caspase-3 were significantly lower in the DIPO group (P<0.05). However, the protein expression levels of pkc-ε and bcl-2 were markedly increased in the DIPO group (P<0.05). 5-HD abrogated the protective effects of DIPO. The data of the present study provide the first evidence that DIPO protects the liver from I/R injury by opening the mitochondrial KATP channels, activating and upregulating pkc-ε and inhibiting the activation of the apoptotic pathway by decreasing the release of cyt-c and the expression of caspase-3 and increasing bcl-2 expression.
PMCID: PMC3627466  PMID: 23596486
diazoxide; ischemic postconditioning; reperfusion injury; liver
20.  Activation of cGMP/Protein Kinase G Pathway in Postconditioned Myocardium Depends on Reduced Oxidative Stress and Preserved Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase Coupling 
The cGMP/protein kinase G (PKG) pathway is involved in the cardioprotective effects of postconditioning (PoCo). Although PKG signaling in PoCo has been proposed to depend on the activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3‐kinase (PI3K)/Akt cascade, recent data bring into question a causal role of reperfusion injury signaling kinase (RISK) in PoCo protection. We hypothesized that PoCo increases PKG activity by reducing oxidative stress–induced endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS) uncoupling at the onset of reperfusion.
Methods and Results
Isolated rat hearts were submitted to 40 minutes of ischemia and reperfusion with and without a PoCo protocol. PoCo reduced infarct size by 48% and cGMP depletion. Blockade of cGMP synthesis (1H‐[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3‐a]quinoxalin‐1‐one) and inhibition of PKG (KT5823) or NOS (l‐NAME) abolished protection, but inhibition of PI3K/Akt cascade (LY294002) did not (n=5 to 7 per group). Phosphorylation of the RISK pathway was higher in PoCo hearts. However, this difference is due to increased cell death in control hearts because in hearts reperfused with the contractile inhibitor blebbistatin, a drug effective in preventing cell death at the onset of reperfusion, RISK phosphorylation increased during reperfusion without differences between control and PoCo groups. In these hearts, PoCo reduced the production of superoxide (O2−) and protein nitrotyrosylation and increased nitrate/nitrite levels in parallel with a significant decrease in the oxidation of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and in the monomeric form of endothelial NOS.
These results demonstrate that PoCo activates the cGMP/PKG pathway via a mechanism independent of the PI3K/Akt cascade and dependent on the reduction of O2− production at the onset of reperfusion, resulting in attenuated oxidation of BH4 and reduced NOS uncoupling.
PMCID: PMC3603241  PMID: 23525447
cardioprotection; nitric oxide synthase; oxidative stress; postconditioning; reperfusion injury
21.  FTY720 postconditions isolated perfused heart by a mechanism independent of sphingosine kinase 2 and different from S1P or ischemic postconditioning 
We investigated the hypothesis that postconditioning by FTY720 (FTY) in isolated perfused mouse hearts is independent of the sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) pathway.
Ex vivo hearts were exposed to postconditioning (POST) by either ischemia or FTY720. Protection against ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury was measured by recovery of left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) and infarct size.
FTY effectively postconditioned (POST) ex vivo hearts against ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury as measured by recovery of LVDP and a low infarct size. FTY protection, unlike S1P but like sphingosine (Sph), was insensitive to inhibition of S1P G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) or inhibition of PI3 kinase. Protection by FTY and Sph was however blocked by inhibitors of PKA and PKG. Thus, FTY follows the same cardioprotective pathway as Sph. This was further supported by studies of FTY POST in knockout (KO) mice lacking the SphK2 form of Sph kinase that is needed for phosphorylation of FTY to an S1P analog. In the absence of SphK2, FTY (and Sph) POST was still cardioprotective. This differed from the effect of SphK2 KO on protection by ischemic POST (IPOST). IPOST was not effective in KO hearts. To see if the GPCR signaling pathway to protection is normal in KO hearts, we looked at POST by GPCR agonists S1P and adenosine. Both provided effective protection even in KO hearts suggesting that the problem with IPOST in KO hearts is a low level of S1P available for release during IPOST. Thus, pharmacologic POST with FTY or Sph, like adenosine and S1P, is unaffected in the KO.
FTY720 administered in vivo might behave in a dual manner showing both S1P-like effects and sphingosine-like effects. It appears that the latter may have been overlooked and may be the more important in aging hearts.
PMCID: PMC3659128  PMID: 23567658
cardioprotection; FTY720; ischemia/reperfusion injury; postconditioning; sphingosine; sphingosine kinase 2; sphingosine 1-phosphate
22.  ASIC1a contributes to neuroprotection elicited by ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning 
Acid-sensing ion channels, ASICs, are proton-gated cation channels widely expressed in peripheral sensory neurons and in neurons of the central nervous system that play an important role in a variety of physiological and pathological processes. To further confirm the role played by ASIC1a in cerebral ischemia, here we examined the involvement of this channel in two endogenous recently characterized neuroprotective strategies: brain ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning. The main aim of this study was to elucidate whether ASIC1a might take part as effector in the neuroprotection evoked by brain ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning. For this purpose we investigated the effect of ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning on (1) ASIC1a mRNA and protein expression in the temporoparietal cortex of rats at different time intervals; and (2) the effect of p-AKT inhibition on ASIC1a expression during ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning. Ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning were experimentally induced in adult male rats by subjecting them to different protocols of middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion. ASIC1a expression was dramatically reduced in both the neuroprotective processes. These changes in ASIC expression were p-AKT mediated, since LY-294002, a specific p-AKT inhibitor, was able to prevent variations in ASIC1a expression. The results of the present study support the idea that the downregulation of ASIC1a expression and activity might be a reasonable strategy to reduce the infarct extension after stroke.
PMCID: PMC3068848  PMID: 21479097
ASIC1a; preconditioning; postconditioning; stroke; neuroprotection
23.  Ischemic postconditioning enhances glycogen synthase kinase-3β expression and alleviates cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury★ 
Neural Regeneration Research  2012;7(19):1507-1512.
The present study established global brain ischemia using the four-vessel occlusion method. Following three rounds of reperfusion for 30 seconds, and occlusion for 10 seconds, followed by reperfusion for 48 hours, infarct area, the number of TUNEL-positive cells and Bcl-2 expression were significantly reduced. However, glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity, cortical Bax and caspase-3 expression significantly increased, similar to results following ischemic postconditioning. Our results indicated that ischemic postconditioning may enhance glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity, a downstream molecule of the phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B signaling pathway, which reduces caspase-3 expression to protect the brain against ischemic injury.
PMCID: PMC4308783  PMID: 25657687
cerebral ischemia/reperfusion; glycogen synthase kinase-3β; ischemic postconditioning; ischemic preconditioning; apoptosis; neural regeneration
24.  Remote postconditioning by humoral factors in effluent from ischemic preconditioned rat hearts is mediated via PI3K/Akt-dependent cell-survival signaling at reperfusion 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2010;106(1):135-145.
Short non-lethal ischemic episodes administered to hearts prior to (ischemic preconditioning, IPC) or directly after (ischemic postconditioning, IPost) ischemic events facilitate myocardial protection. Transferring coronary effluent collected during IPC treatment to un-preconditioned recipient hearts protects from lethal ischemic insults. We propose that coronary IPC effluent contains hydrophobic cytoprotective mediators acting via PI3K/Akt-dependent pro-survival signaling at ischemic reperfusion. Ex vivo rat hearts were subjected to 30 min of regional ischemia and 120 min of reperfusion. IPC effluent administered for 10 min prior to index ischemia attenuated infarct size by ≥55% versus control hearts (P < 0.05). Effluent administration for 10 min at immediate reperfusion (reperfusion therapy) or as a mimetic of pharmacological postconditioning (remote postconditioning, RIPost) significantly reduced infarct size compared to control (P < 0.05). The IPC effluent significantly increased Akt phosphorylation in un-preconditioned hearts when administered before ischemia or at reperfusion, while pharmacological inhibition of PI3K/Akt-signaling at reperfusion completely abrogated the cardioprotection offered by effluent administration. Fractionation of coronary IPC effluent revealed that cytoprotective humoral mediator(s) released during the conditioning phase were of hydrophobic nature as all hydrophobic fractions with molecules under 30 kDa significantly reduced infarct size versus the control and hydrophilic fraction-treated hearts (P < 0.05). The total hydrophobic effluent fraction significantly reduced infarct size independently of temporal administration (before ischemia, at reperfusion or as remote postconditioning). In conclusion, the IPC effluent retains strong cardioprotective properties, containing hydrophobic mediator(s) < 30 kDa offering cytoprotection via PI3K/Akt-dependent signaling at ischemic reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC3012213  PMID: 21103992
Postconditioning; Preconditioning; Cardioprotection; Ischemia; Reperfusion; Akt
25.  Delayed Postconditioning Protects against Focal Ischemic Brain Injury in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3851.
We and others have reported that rapid ischemic postconditioning, interrupting early reperfusion after stroke, reduces infarction in rats. However, its extremely short therapeutic time windows, from a few seconds to minutes after reperfusion, may hinder its clinical translation. Thus, in this study we explored if delayed postconditioning, which is conducted a few hours after reperfusion, offers protection against stroke.
Methods and Results
Focal ischemia was generated by 30 min occlusion of bilateral common carotid artery (CCA) combined with permanent occlusion of middle cerebral artery (MCA); delayed postconditioning was performed by repetitive, brief occlusion and release of the bilateral CCAs, or of the ipsilateral CCA alone. As a result, delayed postconditioning performed at 3h and 6h after stroke robustly reduced infarct size, with the strongest protection achieved by delayed postconditioning with 6 cycles of 15 min occlusion/15 min release of the ipsilateral CCA executed from 6h. We found that this delayed postconditioning provided long-term protection for up to two months by reducing infarction and improving outcomes of the behavioral tests; it also attenuated reduction in 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-uptake therefore improving metabolism, and reduced edema and blood brain barrier leakage. Reperfusion in ischemic stroke patients is usually achieved by tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) application, however, t-PA's side effect may worsen ischemic injury. Thus, we tested whether delayed postconditioning counteracts the exacerbating effect of t-PA. The results showed that delayed postconditioning mitigated the worsening effect of t-PA on infarction.
Delayed postconditioning reduced ischemic injury after focal ischemia, which opens a new research avenue for stroke therapy and its underlying protective mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2588536  PMID: 19066627

Results 1-25 (1038141)