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1.  Early Life Exposure to Air Pollution: How Bad Is It? 
Toxicology letters  2012;216(1):47-53.
Increasing concentrations of air pollution have been shown to contribute to an enormity of adverse health outcomes worldwide, which have been observed in clinical, epidemiological, and animal studies as well as in vitro investigations. Recently, studies have shown that air pollution can affect the developing fetus via maternal exposure, resulting in preterm birth, low birth weight, growth restriction, and potentially adverse cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes. This review will provide a summary of the harmful effects of air pollution exposure on the developing fetus and infant, and suggest potential mechanisms to limit the exposure of pregnant mothers and infants to air pollution.
PMCID: PMC3527658  PMID: 23164674
air pollution; particulate matter; fetal; infant
2.  Cardiovascular Remodeling in Response to Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution 
Circulation. Heart failure  2012;5(4):452-461.
Air pollution is a pervasive environmental health hazard that occurs over a lifetime of exposure in individuals from many industrialized societies. However, studies have focused primarily on exposure durations that correspond to only a portion of the lifespan. We therefore tested the hypothesis that exposure over a considerable portion of the lifespan would induce maladaptive cardiovascular responses.
Methods and Results
C57BL/6 male mice were exposed to concentrated ambient particles <2.5 μm (particulate matter, PM or PM2.5) or filtered air (FA), 6 h/d, 5 d/wk, for 9 months. Assessment of cardiac contractile function, coronary arterial flow reserve, isolated cardiomyocyte function, expression of hypertrophic markers, calcium handling proteins, and cardiac fibrosis were then performed. Mean daily concentrations of PM2.5 in the exposure chamber versus ambient daily PM2.5 concentration at the study site were 85.3 versus 10.6 μg/m3 (7.8-fold concentration), respectively. PM2.5 exposure resulted in increased hypertrophic markers leading to adverse ventricular remodeling characterized by myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform switch and fibrosis, decreased fractional shortening (39.8±1.4 FA versus 27.9±1.3 PM, FS%), and mitral inflow patterns consistent with diastolic dysfunction (1.95±0.05 FA versus 1.52±0.07 PM, E/A ratio). Contractile reserve to dobutamine was depressed (62.3±0.9 FA versus 49.2±1.5 PM, FS%) in response to PM2.5 without significant alterations in maximal vasodilator flow reserve. In vitro cardiomyocyte function revealed depressed peak shortening (8.7±0.6 FA versus 7.0±0.4 PM, %PS) and increased time-to-90% shortening (72.5±3.2 FA versus 82.8±3.2 PM, ms) and relengthening (253.1±7.9 FA versus 282.8±9.3 PM, ms), which were associated with upregulation of profibrotic markers and decreased total antioxidant capacity. Whole-heart SERCA2a levels and the ratio of α/β-MHC were both significantly decreased (P<0.05) in PM2.5-exposed animals, suggesting a switch to fetal programming.
Long-term exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of PM2.5 resulted in a cardiac phenotype consistent with incipient heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3617499  PMID: 22661498
air pollution; particulate matter; cardiovascular; cardiac; remodeling
3.  Direct and Indirect Effects of PM on the Cardiovascular System 
Toxicology letters  2011;208(3):293-299.
Human exposure to particulate matter (PM) elicits a variety of responses on the cardiovascular system through both direct and indirect pathways. Indirect effects of PM on the cardiovascular system are mediated through the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate variability, and inflammatory responses, which augment acute cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis. Recent research demonstrates that PM also affects the cardiovascular system directly by entry into the systemic circulation. This process causes myocardial dysfunction through mechanisms of reactive oxygen species production, calcium ion interference, and vascular dysfunction. In this review, we will present key evidence in both the direct and indirect pathways, suggest clinical applications of the current literature, and recommend directions for future research.
PMCID: PMC3248967  PMID: 22119171
particulate matter; cardiovascular dysfunction; air pollution; inflammation; reactive oxygen species
4.  Metabolic Dysfunction in Diabetic Cardiomyopathy 
Heart failure reviews  2014;19(1):10.1007/s10741-013-9377-8.
Diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) is defined as cardiac disease independent of vascular complications during diabetes. The number of new cases of DCM is rising at epidemic rates in proportion to newly diagnosed cases of diabetes mellitus (DM) throughout the world. DCM is a heart failure syndrome found in diabetic patients that is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy and reduced diastolic function, with or without concurrent systolic dysfunction, occurring in the absence of hypertension and coronary artery disease. DCM and other diabetic complications are caused in part by elevations in blood glucose and lipids, characteristic of DM. Although there are pathological consequences to hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia, the combination of the two metabolic abnormalities potentiates the severity of diabetic complications. A natural competition exists between glucose and fatty acid metabolism in the heart that is regulated by allosteric and feedback control and transcriptional modulation of key limiting enzymes. Inhibition of these glycolytic enzymes not only controls flux of substrate through the glycolytic pathway, but also leads to the diversion of glycolytic intermediate substrate through pathological pathways, which mediate the onset of diabetic complications. The present review describes the limiting steps involved in the development of these pathological pathways and the factors involved in the regulation of these limiting steps. Additionally, therapeutic options with demonstrated or postulated effects on DCM are described.
PMCID: PMC3683106  PMID: 23443849
5.  Right ventricular remodeling in restrictive ventricular septal defect 
Restrictive ventricular septal defect (rVSD) presents with little/no hemodynamic aberrations despite a patent septal defect. Clinically, these patients are observed with the hope that the defect will functionally close over time without the need for surgical repair and development of heart failure. Without evidence supporting a definitive therapeutic strategy, rVSD patients may have increased risk of a poor outcome. We tested the hypothesis that rVSD results in subclinical RV diastolic dysfunction and molecular remodeling. Five pigs underwent surgical rVSD creation. Echocardiography, hemodynamics, myocyte contractility experiments, and proteomics/Western blot were performed 6-weeks post-rVSD and in controls. *p < 0.05. LV and RV hemodynamics in rVSD were comparable to controls. The tricuspid valve early/late diastolic inflow velocity ratio (TV E/A ratio) decreased from 1.6 ± 0.05 in controls to 1.0 ± 0.08* in rVSD, indicating RV diastolic dysfunction. rVSD RV myocytes showed abnormalities in contraction (departure velocity (Vd) − 51%*, Vd time +55%*) and relaxation (return velocity (Vr) −50%*, Vr time +62%*). Mitochondrial proteins (fatty acid, TCA cycle) increased 2-fold*, indicating heightened RV work. Desmin protein upregulated 285%* in rVSD RV myocardium, suggesting cytoskeletal remodeling. rVSD causes RV diastolic dysfunction, myocyte functional impairment, and mitochondrial/cytoskeletal protein upregulation in our model. Desmin upregulation may hinder sarcomeric organization/relaxation, representing a key subclinical early marker for future RV dysfunction. TV E/A measurements are a non-invasive modality to assess rVSD patients for diastolic dysfunction. Translational research applications may lead to fundamental changes in the clinical management of rVSD by providing evidence for early repair of the defect.
PMCID: PMC4263504  PMID: 20637777
Ventricular septal defect; Diastolic dysfunction; Desmin; Remodeling; Congenital; Cytoskeleton; Echocardiography
6.  Endurance Exercise Accelerates Myocardial Tissue Oxygenation Recovery and Reduces Ischemia Reperfusion Injury in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114205.
Exercise training offers cardioprotection against ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, few essential signals have been identified to underscore the protection from injury. In the present study, we hypothesized that exercise-induced acceleration of myocardial tissue oxygenation recovery contributes to this protection. C57BL/6 mice (4 weeks old) were trained on treadmills for 45 min/day at a treading rate of 15 m/min for 8 weeks. At the end of 8-week exercise training, mice underwent 30-min left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion followed by 60-min or 24-h reperfusion. Electron paramagnetic resonance oximetry was performed to measure myocardial tissue oxygenation. Western immunoblotting analyses, gene transfection, and myography were examined. The oximetry study demonstrated that exercise markedly shortened myocardial tissue oxygenation recovery time following reperfusion. Exercise training up-regulated Kir6.1 protein expression (a subunit of ATP-sensitive K+ channel on vascular smooth muscle cells, VSMC sarc-KATP) and protected the heart from I/R injury. In vivo gene transfer of dominant negative Kir6.1AAA prolonged the recovery time and enlarged infarct size. In addition, transfection of Kir6.1AAA increased the stiffness and reduced the relaxation capacity in the vasculature. Together, our study demonstrated that exercise training up-regulated Kir6.1, improved tissue oxygenation recovery, and protected the heart against I/R injury. This exercise-induced cardioprotective mechanism may provide a potential therapeutic intervention targeting VSMC sarc-KATP channels and reperfusion recovery.
PMCID: PMC4256403  PMID: 25474642
7.  Myocardial dysfunction in an animal model of cancer cachexia 
Life sciences  2010;88(9-10):406-410.
Fatigue is a common occurrence in cancer patients regardless of tumor type or anti-tumor therapies and is an especially problematic symptom in persons with incurable tumor disease. In rodents, tumor-induced fatigue is associated with a progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and increased expression of biomarkers of muscle protein degradation. The purpose of the present study was to determine if muscle wasting and expression of biomarkers of muscle protein degradation occur in the hearts of tumor-bearing mice, and if these effects of tumor growth are associated with changes in systolic dysfunction.
Main Methods
The colon 26 adenocarcinoma cell line was implanted into female CD2F1 mice and skeletal muscle wasting, in vivo heart function, in vitro cardiomyocyte function, and biomarkers of muscle protein degradation were determined.
Key Findings
Expression of biomarkers of protein degradation were increased in both the gastrocnemius and heart muscle of tumor-bearing mice and caused systolic dysfunction in vivo. Cardiomyocyte function was significantly depressed during both cellular contraction and relaxation.
These results suggest that heart muscle is directly affected by tumor growth, with myocardial function more severely compromised at the cellular level than what is observed using echocardiography.
PMCID: PMC3057126  PMID: 21167183
cancer; cachexia; myocardial function; cardiomyocyte; autophagy; ubiquitin
8.  Prenatal Ethanol Exposure Increases Brain Cholesterol Content in Adult Rats 
Lipids  2013;48(11):10.1007/s11745-013-3821-3.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe expression of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Although alterations in fetal and neonate brain fatty acid composition and cholesterol content is known to change in animal models of FASD, the persistence of these alterations into adulthood is unknown. To address this question, we determined the effect of prenatal ethanol exposure on individual phospholipid class fatty acid composition, individual phospholipid class mass, and cholesterol mass in brains from 25-week-old rats that were exposed to ethanol during gestation beginning at gestational day 2. While total phospholipid mass was unaffected, phosphatidylinositol and cardiolipin mass was decreased 14 and 43%, respectively. Exposure to prenatal ethanol modestly altered brain phospholipid fatty acid composition, and the most consistent change was a significant 1.1-fold increase in total PUFA, in the n-3/n-6 ratio, and in the 22:6 n-3 content in ethanolamine glycerophospholipids and in phosphatidylserine. In contrast, prenatal ethanol consumption significantly increased brain cholesterol mass 1.4-fold and the phospholipid to cholesterol ratio was significantly increased 1.3-fold. These results indicate that brain cholesterol mass was significantly increased in adult rats exposed prenatally to ethanol, but changes in phospholipid mass and phospholipid fatty acid composition were extremely limited. Importantly, suppression of post-natal ethanol consumption was not sufficient to reverse the large increase in cholesterol observed in the adult rats.
PMCID: PMC3808499  PMID: 23996454
fetal alcohol syndrome; cholesterol; phospholipid fatty acid composition; brain; phospholipid
9.  Characterization and Functionality of Cardiac Progenitor Cells in Congenital Heart Patients 
Circulation  2011;123(4):364-373.
Human cardiac progenitor cells (hCPCs) may promote myocardial regeneration in adult ischemic myocardium. The regenerative capacity of hCPCs in young patients with nonischemic congenital heart defects for potential use in congenital heart defect repair warrants exploration.
Methods and Results
Human right atrial specimens were obtained during routine congenital cardiac surgery across 3 groups: neonates (age, <30 days), infants (age, 1 month to 2 years), and children (age, >2 to ≤13 years). C-kit+ hCPCs were 3-fold higher in neonates than in children >2 years of age. hCPC proliferation was greatest during the neonatal period as evidenced by c-kit+ Ki67+ expression but decreased with age. hCPC differentiation capacity was also greatest in neonatal right atrium as evidenced by c-kit+, NKX2–5+, NOTCH1+, and NUMB+ expression. Despite the age-dependent decline in resident hCPCs, we isolated and expanded right atrium–derived CPCs from all patients (n = 103) across all ages and diagnoses using the cardiosphere method. Intact cardiospheres contained a mix of heart-derived cell subpopulations that included cardiac progenitor cells expressing c-kit+, Islet-1, and supporting cells. The number of c-kit+–expressing cells was highest in human cardiosphere-derived cells (hCDCs) grown from neonatal and infant right atrium. Furthermore, hCDCs could differentiate into diverse cardiovascular lineages by in vitro differentiation assays. Transplanted hCDCs promoted greater myocardial regeneration and functional improvement in infarcted myocardium than transplanted cardiac fibroblasts.
Resident hCPCs are most abundant in the neonatal period and rapidly decrease over time. hCDCs can be reproducibly isolated and expanded from young human myocardial samples regardless of age or diagnosis. hCPCs are functional and have potential in congenital cardiac repair.
PMCID: PMC3320857  PMID: 21242485
heart defects; congenital; cardiomyopathy; heart failure; remodeling; pediatrics; stem cells
10.  Systemic Maternal Inflammation and Neonatal Hyperoxia Induces Remodeling and Left Ventricular Dysfunction in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24544.
The impact of the neonatal environment on the development of adult cardiovascular disease is poorly understood. Systemic maternal inflammation is linked to growth retardation, preterm birth, and maturation deficits in the developing fetus. Often preterm or small-for-gestational age infants require medical interventions such as oxygen therapy. The long-term pathological consequences of medical interventions on an immature physiology remain unknown. In the present study, we hypothesized that systemic maternal inflammation and neonatal hyperoxia exposure compromise cardiac structure, resulting in LV dysfunction during adulthood.
Methods and Results
Pregnant C3H/HeN mice were injected on embryonic day 16 (E16) with LPS (80 µg/kg; i.p.) or saline. Offspring were placed in room air (RA) or 85% O2 for 14 days and subsequently maintained in RA. Cardiac echocardiography, cardiomyocyte contractility, and molecular analyses were performed. Echocardiography revealed persistent lower left ventricular fractional shortening with greater left ventricular end systolic diameter at 8 weeks in LPS/O2 than in saline/RA mice. Isolated cardiomyocytes from LPS/O2 mice had slower rates of contraction and relaxation, and a slower return to baseline length than cardiomyocytes isolated from saline/RA controls. α-/β-MHC ratio was increased and Connexin-43 levels decreased in LPS/O2 mice at 8 weeks. Nox4 was reduced between day 3 and 14 and capillary density was lower at 8 weeks of life in LPS/O2 mice.
These results demonstrate that systemic maternal inflammation combined with neonatal hyperoxia exposure induces alterations in cardiac structure and function leading to cardiac failure in adulthood and supports the importance of the intrauterine and neonatal milieu on adult health.
PMCID: PMC3173376  PMID: 21935422
11.  Particulate Matter Exposure Exacerbates High Glucose-Induced Cardiomyocyte Dysfunction through ROS Generation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23116.
Diabetes mellitus and fine particulate matter from diesel exhaust (DEP) are both important contributors to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Diabetes mellitus is a progressive disease with a high mortality rate in patients suffering from CVD, resulting in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Elevated DEP levels in the air are attributed to the development of various CVDs, presumably since fine DEP (<2.5 µm in diameter) can be inhaled and gain access to the circulatory system. However, mechanisms defining how DEP affects diabetic or control cardiomyocyte function remain poorly understood. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate cardiomyocyte function and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in isolated rat ventricular myocytes exposed overnight to fine DEP (0.1 µg/ml), and/or high glucose (HG, 25.5 mM). Our hypothesis was that DEP exposure exacerbates contractile dysfunction via ROS generation in cardiomyocytes exposed to HG. Ventricular myocytes were isolated from male adult Sprague-Dawley rats cultured overnight and sarcomeric contractile properties were evaluated, including: peak shortening normalized to baseline (PS), time-to-90% shortening (TPS90), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90) and maximal velocities of shortening/relengthening (±dL/dt), using an IonOptix field-stimulator system. ROS generation was determined using hydroethidine/ethidium confocal microscopy. We found that DEP exposure significantly increased TR90, decreased PS and ±dL/dt, and enhanced intracellular ROS generation in myocytes exposed to HG. Further studies indicated that co-culture with antioxidants (0.25 mM Tiron and 0.5 mM N-Acetyl-L-cysteine) completely restored contractile function in DEP, HG and HG+DEP-treated myocytes. ROS generation was blocked in HG-treated cells with mitochondrial inhibition, while ROS generation was blocked in DEP-treated cells with NADPH oxidase inhibition. Our results suggest that DEP exacerbates myocardial dysfunction in isolated cardiomyocytes exposed to HG-containing media, which is potentially mediated by various ROS generation pathways.
PMCID: PMC3151271  PMID: 21850256
12.  Cardiovascular effects of ambient particulate air pollution exposure 
Circulation  2010;121(25):2755-2765.
PMCID: PMC2924678  PMID: 20585020
air pollution; particulate matter; cardiovascular disease
13.  Interaction between Age and Obesity on Cardiomyocyte Contractile Function: Role of Leptin and Stress Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10085.
This study was designed to evaluate the interaction between aging and obesity on cardiac contractile and intracellular Ca2+ properties.
Cardiomyocytes from young (4-mo) and aging (12- and 18-mo) male lean and the leptin deficient ob/ob obese mice were treated with leptin (0.5, 1.0 and 50 nM) for 4 hrs in vitro. High fat diet (45% calorie from fat) and the leptin receptor mutant db/db obesity models at young and older age were used for comparison. Cardiomyocyte contractile and intracellular Ca2+ properties were evaluated including peak shortening (PS), maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening (± dL/dt), time-to-PS (TPS), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90), intracellular Ca2+ levels and decay. O2− levels were measured by dihydroethidium fluorescence.
Our results revealed reduced survival in ob/ob mice. Aging and obesity reduced PS, ± dL/dt, intracellular Ca2+ rise, prolonged TR90 and intracellular Ca2+ decay, enhanced O2− production and p47phox expression without an additive effect of the two, with the exception of intracellular Ca2+ rise. Western blot analysis exhibited reduced Ob-R expression and STAT-3 phosphorylation in both young and aging ob/ob mice, which was restored by leptin. Aging and obesity reduced phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS and p38 while promoting pJNK and pIκB. Low levels of leptin reconciled contractile, intracellular Ca2+ and cell signaling defects as well as O2− production and p47phox upregulation in young but not aging ob/ob mice. High level of leptin (50 nM) compromised contractile and intracellular Ca2+ response as well as O2− production and stress signaling in all groups. High fat diet-induced and db/db obesity displayed somewhat comparable aging-induced mechanical but not leptin response.
Taken together, our data suggest that aging and obesity compromise cardiac contractile function possibly via phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS and stress signaling-associated O2− release.
PMCID: PMC2852499  PMID: 20396382
14.  Measurement of Cardiac Mechanical Function in Isolated Ventricular Myocytes from Rats and Mice by Computerized Video-Based Imaging 
Isolated adult cardiac ventricular myocytes have been a useful model for cardiovascular research for more than 20 years. With the recent advances in cellular physiology and transgenic techniques, direct measurement of isolated ventricular myocyte mechanics is becoming an increasingly important technique in cardiac physiology that provides fundamental information on excitation-contraction coupling of the heart, either in drug intervention or pathological states. The goal of this article is to describe the isolation of ventricular myocytes from both rats and mice, and the use of real-time beat-to-beat simultaneous recording of both myocyte contraction and intracellular Ca2+ transient.
PMCID: PMC145545  PMID: 12734580
myocardial contraction; research design; calcium

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