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1.  Molecular and cellular function of the proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) 
The proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) has emerged as a promising treatment target to lower serum cholesterol, a major risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. Gain-of-function mutations of PCSK9 are associated with hypercholesterolemia and increased risk of cardiovascular events. Conversely, loss-of-function mutations cause low-plasma LDL-C levels and a reduction of cardiovascular risk without known unwanted effects on individual health. Experimental studies have revealed that PCSK9 reduces the hepatic uptake of LDL-C by increasing the endosomal and lysosomal degradation of LDL receptors (LDLR). A number of clinical studies have demonstrated that inhibition of PCSK9 alone and in addition to statins potently reduces serum LDL-C concentrations. This review summarizes the current data on the regulation of PCSK9, its molecular function in lipid homeostasis and the emerging evidence on the extra-hepatic effects of PCSK9.
PMCID: PMC4298671  PMID: 25600226
PCSK9; Heart; Cardiovascular disease; Cholesterol
2.  Hematopoietic cytokines for cardiac repair: mobilization of bone marrow cells and beyond 
Basic research in cardiology  2011;106(5):709-733.
Hematopoietic cytokines, traditionally known to influence cellular proliferation, differentiation, maturation, and lineage commitment in the bone marrow, include granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor, stem cell factor, Flt-3 ligand, and erythropoietin among others. Emerging evidence suggests that these cytokines also exert multifarious biological effects on diverse nonhematopoietic organs and tissues. Although the precise mechanisms remain unclear, numerous studies in animal models of myocardial infarction (MI) and heart failure indicate that hematopoietic cytokines confer potent cardiovascular benefits, possibly through mobilization and subsequent homing of bone marrow-derived cells into the infarcted heart with consequent induction of myocardial repair involving multifarious mechanisms. In addition, these cytokines are also known to exert direct cytoprotective effects. However, results from small-scale clinical trials of G-CSF therapy as a single agent after acute MI have been discordant and largely disappointing. It is likely that cardiac repair following cytokine therapy depends on a number of known and unknown variables, and further experimental and clinical studies are certainly warranted to accurately determine the true therapeutic potential of such therapy. In this review, we discuss the biological features of several key hematopoietic cytokines and present the basic and clinical evidence pertaining to cardiac repair with hematopoietic cytokine therapy.
PMCID: PMC4281455  PMID: 21541807
Cytokine; Myocardial infarction; Myocardial regeneration; Stem cell; Bone marrow; Mobilization
3.  TGF-β1 enhances cardiomyogenic differentiation of skeletal muscle-derived adult primitive cells 
Basic research in cardiology  2008;103(6):514-524.
The optimal medium for cardiac differentiation of adult primitive cells remains to be established. We quantitatively compared the efficacy of IGF-1, dynorphin B, insulin, oxytocin, bFGF, and TGF-β1 in inducing cardiomyogenic differentiation. Adult mouse skeletal muscle-derived Sca1+/CD45-/c-kit-/Thy-1+ (SM+) and Sca1-/CD45-/c-kit-/Thy-1+ (SM−) cells were cultured in basic medium (BM; DMEM, FBS, IGF-1, dynorphin B) alone and BM supplemented with insulin, oxytocin, bFGF, or TGF-β1. Cardiac differentiation was evaluated by the expression of cardiac-specific markers at the mRNA (qRT-PCR) and protein (immunocytochemistry) levels. BM+TGF-β1 upregulated mRNA expression of Nkx2.5 and GATA-4 after 4 days and Myl2 after 9 days. After 30 days, BM+TGF-β1 induced the greatest extent of cardiac differentiation (by morphology and expression of cardiac markers) in SM− cells. We conclude that TGF-β1 enhances cardiomyogenic differentiation in skeletal muscle-derived adult primitive cells. This strategy may be utilized to induce cardiac differentiation as well as to examine the cardiomyogenic potential of adult tissue-derived stem/progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC4270753  PMID: 18500484
adult stem cell; cardiac differentiation; culture medium; skeletal muscle; growth factor
4.  Smooth muscle cells from the anastomosed artery are the major precursors for neointima formation in both artery and vein grafts 
Basic research in cardiology  2014;109(5):431.
Accumulation of smooth muscle cells (SMC) results in neointima formation in injured vessels. Two graft models consisting of vein and artery grafts were created by anastomosing common carotid arteries to donor vessels. To identify the origin of the neointima cells from anastomosed arteries, we use Wnt1-Cre/reporter mice to label and track SMCs in the common carotid artery. The contribution of SMCs in the neighboring arteries to neointima formation was studied. On evaluating the artery grafts after 1 month, >90 % of the labeled neointima cells were found to have originated from the anastomosing host arteries. Most of the neointima cells were also smooth muscle α-actin positive (SMA-α+) and expressed the smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC), the SMC terminal differentiation marker. In vein grafts, about 60 % SMA-α-positive cells were from anastomosing arteries. Bone marrow cells did not contribute to neointima SMCs in vein grafts, but did co-stain with markers of inflammatory cells. Wnt1 expression was not detected in the neointima cells in the vein or artery grafts, or the injured femoral arteries. Neointima SMCs showed the synthetic phenotype and were positively labeled with BrdU in vitro and in vivo. Treatment with the IGF-1 receptor inhibitor suppressed SMC proliferation and neointima formation in vein grafts. Our results indicate that SMCs from the neighboring artery are predominantly present in the neointima formed in both vein and artery grafts and that Wnt1-Cre mice can be used to explore the role of SMCs originating from neighboring vessels in vascular remodeling.
PMCID: PMC4259152  PMID: 25107324
VSMC; Wnt1; Neointima formation
5.  Distinct cardioprotective mechanisms of immediate, early and delayed ischaemic postconditioning 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;110(1):452.
Cardioprotection against ischaemia/reperfusion injury in mice can be achieved by delayed ischaemic postconditioning (IPost) applied as late as 30 min after the onset of reperfusion. We determined the efficacy of delayed IPost in a rat model of myocardial infarction (MI) and investigated potential underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon. Rats were subjected to 20, 30 or 45 min of coronary artery occlusion followed by 120 min of reperfusion (I/R). Immediate and early IPost included six cycles of I/R (10/10 s) applied 10 s or 10 min after reperfusion onset. In the second series of experiments, the rats were subjected to 30 min of coronary occlusion followed by IPost applied 10 s, 10, 30, 45 or 60 min after the onset of reperfusion. Immediate and early IPost (applied 10 s or 10 min of reperfusion) established cardioprotection only when applied after a period of myocardial ischaemia lasting 30 min. Delayed IPost applied after 30 or 45 min of reperfusion reduced infarct sizes by 36 and 41 %, respectively (both P < 0.01). IPost applied 60 min after reperfusion onset was ineffective. Inhibition of RISK pathway (administration of ERK1/2 inhibitor PD-98059 or PI3K inhibitor LY-294002) abolished cardioprotection established by immediate IPost but had no effect on cardioprotection conferred by early IPost. Blockade of SAFE pathway using JAK/STAT inhibitor AG490 had no effect on the immediate or early IPost cardioprotection. Blockade of mitochondrial KATP (mitoKATP) channels (with 5-Hydroxydecanoate) abolished cardioprotection achieved by immediate and early IPost, but had no effect on cardioprotection when IPost was applied 30 or 45 min into the reperfusion period. Immediate IPost increased phosphorylation of PI3K-AKT and ERK1/2. Early or delayed IPost had no effect on phosphorylation of PI3K-AKT, ERK1/2 or STAT3. These data show that in the rat model, delayed IPost confers significant cardioprotection even if applied 45 min after onset of reperfusion. Cardioprotection induced by immediate and early postconditioning involves recruitment of RISK pathway and/or mitoKATP channels, while delayed postconditioning appears to rely on a different mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4250560  PMID: 25449894
Ischaemia and reperfusion injury; MitoKATP channels; Myocardial infarction; Postconditioning; Preconditioning; RISK and SAFE pathways
6.  Remote ischemic conditioning: from experimental observation to clinical application: report from the 8th Biennial Hatter Cardiovascular Institute Workshop 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;110(1):453.
In 1993, Przyklenk and colleagues made the intriguing experimental observation that ‘brief ischemia in one vascular bed also protects remote, virgin myocardium from subsequent sustained coronary artery occlusion’ and that this effect ‘…. may be mediated by factor(s) activated, produced, or transported throughout the heart during brief ischemia/reperfusion’. This seminal study laid the foundation for the discovery of ‘remote ischemic conditioning’ (RIC), a phenomenon in which the heart is protected from the detrimental effects of acute ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI), by applying cycles of brief ischemia and reperfusion to an organ or tissue remote from the heart. The concept of RIC quickly evolved to extend beyond the heart, encompassing inter-organ protection against acute IRI. The crucial discovery that the protective RIC stimulus could be applied non-invasively, by simply inflating and deflating a blood pressure cuff placed on the upper arm to induce cycles of brief ischemia and reperfusion, has facilitated the translation of RIC into the clinical setting. Despite intensive investigation over the last 20 years, the underlying mechanisms continue to elude researchers. In the 8th Biennial Hatter Cardiovascular Institute Workshop, recent developments in the field of RIC were discussed with a focus on new insights into the underlying mechanisms, the diversity of non-cardiac protection, new clinical applications, and large outcome studies. The scientific advances made in this field of research highlight the journey that RIC has made from being an intriguing experimental observation to a clinical application with patient benefit.
PMCID: PMC4250562  PMID: 25449895
Ischemia; Organ protection; Remote ischemic conditioning; Reperfusion
7.  Anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic effects of beta blockers in a canine model of chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy: comparison between carvedilol and metoprolol 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(6):10.1007/s00395-013-0384-7.
There is controversy regarding the superiority of carvedilol (C) over metoprolol (M) in congestive heart failure. We hypothesized that C is superior to M in chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy because of its better anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic effects. In order to test our hypothesis we used a chronic canine model of multivessel ischemic cardiomyopathy where myocardial microcatheters were placed from which interstitial fluid was collected over time to measure leukocyte count and cytokine levels. After development of left ventricular dysfunction, the animals were randomized into four groups: sham (n = 7), placebo (n = 8), M (n = 11), and C (n = 10), and followed for 3 months after treatment initiation. Tissue was examined for immunohistochemistry, oxidative stress, and capillary density. At 3 months both rest and stress wall thickening were better in C compared to the other groups. At the end of 3 months of treatment endsystolic wall stress also decreased the most in C. Similarly resting myocardial blood flow (MBF) improved the most in C as did the stress endocardial/epicardial MBF. Myocardial interstitial fluid showed greater attenuation of leukocytosis with C compared to M, which was associated with less fibrosis and oxidative stress. C also had higher IL-10 level and capillary density. In conclusion, in a chronic canine model of multivessel ischemic cardiomyopathy we found 3 months of C treatment resulted in better resting global and regional function as well as better regional function at stress compared to M. These changes were associated with higher myocardial levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and less myocardial oxidative stress, leukocytosis, and fibrosis. Capillary density and MBF were almost normalized. Thus in the doses used in this study, C appears to be superior to M in a chronic canine model of ischemic cardiomyopathy from beneficial effects on inflammation and angiogenesis. Further studies are required for comparing additional doses of these drugs.
PMCID: PMC3867789  PMID: 24072434
Ischemic cardiomyopathy; Beta blockers; Regional flow; Regional function; Cytokines; Angiogenesis
8.  FHL2 expression and variants in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(6):451.
Based on evidence that FHL2 (four and a half LIM domains protein 2) negatively regulates cardiac hypertrophy we tested whether FHL2 altered expression or variants could be associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a myocardial disease characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction and increased interstitial fibrosis and is mainly caused by mutations in genes coding for sarcomeric proteins. FHL2 mRNA level, FHL2 protein level and I-band-binding density were lower in HCM patients than control individuals. Screening of 121 HCM patients without mutations in established disease genes identified 2 novel (T171M, V187L) and 4 known (R177Q, N226N, D268D, P273P) FHL2 variants in unrelated HCM families. We assessed the structural and functional consequences of the nonsynonymous substitutions after adeno-associated viral-mediated gene transfer in cardiac myocytes and in 3D-engineered heart tissue (EHT). Overexpression of FHL2 wild type or nonsynonymous substitutions in cardiac myocytes markedly down-regulated α-skeletal actin and partially blunted hypertrophy induced by phenylephrine or endothelin-1. After gene transfer in EHTs, force and velocity of both contraction and relaxation were higher with T171M and V187L FHL2 variants than wild type under basal conditions. Finally, chronic phenylephrine stimulation depressed EHT function in all groups, but to a lower extent in T171M-transduced EHTs. These data suggest that (1) FHL2 is down-regulated in HCM, (2) both FHL2 wild type and variants partially protected phenylephrine- or endothelin-1-induced hypertrophy in cardiac myocytes, and (3) FHL2 T171M and V187L nonsynonymous variants induced altered EHT contractility. These findings provide evidence that the 2 novel FHL2 variants could increase cardiac function in HCM.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0451-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4215105  PMID: 25358972
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Hypertrophy; FHL2; Engineered heart tissue; Hypercontractility
9.  Effects of proarrhythmic drugs on relaxation time and beating pattern in rat engineered heart tissue 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(6):436.
The assessment of proarrhythmic risks of drugs remains challenging. To evaluate the suitability of rat engineered heart tissue (EHT) for detecting proarrhythmic effects. We monitored drug effects on spontaneous contractile activity and, in selected cases, on action potentials (sharp microelectrode) and Ca2+ transients (Fura-2) and contraction under electrical pacing. The Ito-blocker inhibitor 4-aminopyridine increased action potential duration and T2 and caused aftercontractions, which were abolished by inhibitors of ryanodine receptors (RyR2; JTV-519) or sodium calcium exchanger (NCX; SEA0400). 77 Drugs were then tested at 1-10-100× free therapeutic plasma concentrations (FTPC): Inhibitors of IKr, IKs, Ito, antiarrhythmics (8), drugs withdrawn from market for torsades des pointes arrhythmias (TdP, 5), drugs with measurable (7) or isolated TdP incidence (13), drugs considered safe (14), 28 new chemical entities (NCE). Inhibitors of IKr or IKs had no effect alone, but substantially prolonged relaxation time (T2) when combined at high concentration. 15/33 drugs associated with TdP and 6/14 drugs considered non-torsadogenic (cibenzoline, diltiazem, ebastine, ketoconazole, moxifloxacin, and phenytoin) induced concentration-dependent T2 prolongations (10-100× FTPC). Bepridil, desipramine, imipramine, thioridazine, and erythromycin induced irregular beating. Three NCE prolonged T2, one reduced force. Drugs inhibiting repolarization prolong relaxation in rat EHTs and cause aftercontractions involving RyR2 and NCX. Insensitivity to IKr inhibitors makes rat EHTs unsuitable as general proarrhythmia screen, but favors detection of effects on Ito, IKs + Ito or IKs + IKr. Screening a large panel of drugs suggests that effects on these currents, in addition to IKr, are more common than anticipated.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0436-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4160570  PMID: 25209140
Arrhythmia; Torsades des pointes; Drugs; In vitro screening; Engineered heart tissue
10.  Flotillin-1 facilitates toll-like receptor 3 signaling in human endothelial cells 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(6):439.
Endothelial cells are important elements in the vascular response to danger-associated molecules signaling through toll-like receptors (TLRs). Flotillin-1 and -2 are markers of membrane rafts but their true endothelial function is unknown. We hypothesized that flotillins are required for TLR signaling in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Knockdown of flotillin-1 by shRNA decreased the TLR3-mediated poly-I:C-induced but not the TLR4-mediated LPS-induced inflammatory activation of HUVEC. As TLR3 but not TLR4 signals through the endosomal compartment, flotillin-1 might be involved in the transport of poly-I:C to its receptor. Consistently, uptake of poly-I:C was attenuated by flotillin-1 knockdown and probably involved the scavenger receptor SCARA4 as revealed by knockdown of this receptor. To determine the underlying mechanism, SILAC proteomics was performed. Down-regulation of flotillin-1 led to a reduction of the structural caveolae proteins caveolin-1, cavin-1 and -2, suggesting a role of flotillin-1 in caveolae formation. Flotillin-1 and caveolin-1 colocalized within the cell, and knockdown of flotillin-1 decreased caveolin-1 expression in an endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent manner. Importantly, downregulation of caveolin-1 also attenuated TLR3-induced signaling. To demonstrate the importance of this finding, cell adhesion was studied. Flotillin-1 shRNA attenuated the poly-I:C-mediated induction of the adhesion molecules VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. As a consequence, the poly-I:C-induced adhesion of peripheral blood mononuclear cells onto HUVECs was significantly attenuated by flotillin-1 shRNA. Collectively, these data suggest that interaction between flotillin-1 and caveolin-1 may facilitate the transport of TLR3-ligands to its intracellular receptor and enables inflammatory TLR3 signaling.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0439-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4330457  PMID: 25204797
Endothelium; Lipid rafts; Caveolae; Cavin; Inflammation; Toll-like receptors; Scavenger receptors
11.  Contribution of electromechanical coupling between KV and CaV1.2 channels to coronary dysfunction in obesity 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(5):10.1007/s00395-013-0370-0.
Previous investigations indicate that diminished functional expression of voltage-dependent K+ (KV) channels impairs control of coronary blood flow in obesity/metabolic syndrome. The goal of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that KV channels are electromechanically coupled to CaV1.2 channels and that coronary microvascular dysfunction in obesity is related to subsequent increases in CaV1.2 channel activity. Initial studies revealed that inhibition of KV channels with 4-aminopyridine (4AP, 0.3 mM) increased intracellular [Ca2+], contracted isolated coronary arterioles and decreased coronary reactive hyperemia. These effects were reversed by blockade of CaV1.2 channels. Further studies in chronically instrumented Ossabaw swine showed that inhibition of CaV1.2 channels with nifedipine (10 μg/kg, iv) had no effect on coronary blood flow at rest or during exercise in lean swine. However, inhibition of CaV1.2 channels significantly increased coronary blood flow, conductance, and the balance between coronary flow and metabolism in obese swine (P < 0.05). These changes were associated with a ~50 % increase in inward CaV1.2 current and elevations in expression of the pore-forming subunit (α1c) of CaV1.2 channels in coronary smooth muscle cells from obese swine. Taken together, these findings indicate that electromechanical coupling between KV and CaV1.2 channels is involved in the regulation of coronary vasomotor tone and that increases in CaV1.2 channel activity contribute to coronary microvascular dysfunction in the setting of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3818702  PMID: 23856709
Coronary; Exercise; CaV1.2 channels; Obesity; Swine
12.  Stanniocalcin1 is a key mediator of amyloidogenic light chain induced cardiotoxicity 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(5):378.
Immunoglobulin light chain (LC) amyloidosis (AL) results from overproduction of circulating amyloidogenic LC proteins and subsequent amyloid fibril deposition in organs. Mortality in AL amyloidosis patients is highly associated with a rapidly progressive AL cardiomyopathy, marked by profound impairment of diastolic and systolic cardiac function and significant early mortality. While myocardial fibril deposition contributes to the severe diastolic dysfunction seen in AL cardiomyopathy patients, the degree of fibril deposition has not been found to correlate with prognosis. Previously, we and others showed a direct cardiotoxic effect of amyloidogenic LC proteins (AL-LC), which may contribute to the pathophysiology and mortality observed in AL cardiomyopathy patients. However, the mechanisms underlying AL-LC related cardiotoxicity remain unknown. Mammalian stanniocalcin1 (STC1) is associated with a number of cellular processes including oxidative stress and cell death. Herein, we find that STC1 expression is elevated in cardiac tissue from AL cardiomyopathy patients, and is induced in isolated cardiomyocytes in response to AL-LC, but not non-amyloidogenic LC. STC1 overexpression in vitro recapitulates the pathophysiology of AL-LC mediated cardiotoxicity, with increased ROS production, contractile dysfunction and cell death. Overexpression of STC1 in vivo results in significant cardiac dysfunction and cell death. Genetic silencing of STC1 prevents AL-LC induced cardiotoxicity in cardiomyocytes and protects against AL-LC induced cell death and early mortality in zebrafish. The cardiotoxic effects of STC1 appears to be mediated via mitochondrial dysfunction as indicated by loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, ROS production and increased mitochondrial calcium levels. Collectively, this work identifies STC1 as a critical determinant of AL-LC cardiotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3914405  PMID: 23982491
Amyloidosis; Cardiomyopathy; cardiac toxicity
13.  Fibronectin contributes to pathological cardiac hypertrophy but not physiological growth 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(5):10.1007/s00395-013-0375-8.
Ability of the heart to undergo pathological or physiological hypertrophy upon increased wall stress is critical for long-term compensatory function in response to increased workload demand. While substantial information has been published on the nature of the fundamental molecular signaling involved in hypertrophy, the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) protein Fibronectin (Fn) in hypertrophic signaling is unclear.
Delineate the role of Fn during pressure overload-induced pathological cardiac hypertrophy and physiological growth prompted by exercise.
Methods and Results
Genetic conditional ablation of Fn in adulthood blunts cardiomyocyte hypertrophy upon pressure overload via attenuated activation of Nuclear Factor of Activated T cells (NFAT). Loss of Fn delays development of heart failure and improves survival. In contrast, genetic deletion of Fn has no impact on physiological cardiac growth induced by voluntary wheel running. Down regulation of the transcription factor c/EBPβ (Ccaat-enhanced binding protein β), which is essential for induction of the physiological growth program, is unaffected by Fn deletion. Nuclear NFAT translocation is triggered by Fn in conjunction with up-regulation of the fetal gene program and hypertrophy of cardiomyocytes in vitro. Furthermore, activation of the physiological gene program induced by Insulin stimulation in vitro is attenuated by Fn, whereas Insulin had no impact on Fn-induced pathological growth program.
Fn contributes to pathological cardiomyocyte hypertrophy in vitro and in vivo via NFAT activation. Fn is dispensable for physiological growth in vivo, and Fn attenuates the activation of the physiological growth program in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3813434  PMID: 23912225
cardiomyocytes; pathological and physiological hypertrophy; fibronectin; heart failure
14.  Nociceptive-induced Myocardial Remote Conditioning Is Mediated By Neuronal Gamma Protein Kinase C 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(5):10.1007/s00395-013-0381-x.
Deciphering the remote conditioning molecular mechanism may provide targets to develop therapeutics that can broaden the clinical application. To further investigate this, we tested whether two protein kinase C isozymes, the ubiquitously expressed epsilon PKC (εPKC) and the neuronal specific gamma PKC (γPKC), mediate nociceptive-induced remote myocardial conditioning.
Male Sprague-Dawley rats were used for both in vivo and ex vivo myocardial ischemia-reperfusion protocols. For the in vivo studies, using a surgical abdominal incision for comparison, applying only to the abdomen either bradykinin or the εPKC activator (ψεRACK) reduced myocardial infarct size (45±1%, 44±2%, respectively, versus incision: 43±2%, and control: 63±2%, P < 0.001). Western blot showed only εPKC, and not γPKC, is highly expressed in the myocardium. However, applying a selective γPKC inhibitor (γV5-3) to the abdominal skin blocked remote protection by any of these strategies.
Using an ex vivo isolated heart model without an intact nervous system, only selective εPKC activation, unlike a selective classical PKC isozyme activator (activating α, β, βII and γ), reduced myocardial injury. Importantly, the classical PKC isozyme activator given to the abdomen in vivo (with an intact nervous system including γPKC) during myocardial ischemia reduced infarct size as effectively as an abdominal incision or ψεRACK (45±1% versus 45±2% and 47±1%, respectively). The classical PKC activator-induced protection was also blocked by spinal cord surgical transection.
These findings identified potential remote conditioning mimetics, with these strategies effective even during myocardial ischemia. A novel mechanism of nociceptive-induced remote conditioning, involving γPKC, was also identified.
PMCID: PMC3856950  PMID: 23982492
infarct size; remote; incision; protein kinase C; gamma; epsilon
15.  S-nitrosation of mitochondrial connexin 43 regulates mitochondrial function 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(5):433.
S-nitrosation (SNO) of connexin 43 (Cx43)-formed channels modifies dye uptake in astrocytes and gap junctional communication in endothelial cells. Apart from forming channels at the plasma membrane of several cell types, Cx43 is also located at the inner membrane of myocardial subsarcolemmal mitochondria (SSM), but not in interfibrillar mitochondria (IFM). The absence or pharmacological blockade of mitochondrial Cx43 (mtCx43) reduces dye and potassium uptake. Lack of mtCx43 is associated with loss of endogenous cardioprotection by ischemic preconditioning (IPC), which is mediated by formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Whether or not mitochondrial Lucifer Yellow (LY), ion uptake, or ROS generation are affected by SNO of mtCx43 and whether or not cardioprotective interventions affect SNO of mtCx43 remains unknown. In SSM from rat hearts, application of NO donors (48 nmol to 1 mmol) increased LY uptake (0.5 mmol SNAP 38.4 ± 7.1 %, p < 0.05; 1 mmol GSNO 28.1 ± 7.4 %, p < 0.05) and the refilling rate of potassium (SNAP 227.9 ± 30.1 %, p < 0.05; GSNO 122.6 ± 28.1 %, p < 0.05). These effects were absent following blockade of Cx43 hemichannels by carbenoxolone as well as in IFM lacking Cx43. Unlike potassium, the sodium permeability was not affected by application of NO. Furthermore, mitochondrial ROS formation was increased following NO application compared to control SSM (0.5 mmol SNAP 22.9 ± 1.8 %, p < 0.05; 1 mmol GSNO 40.6 ± 7.1 %, p < 0.05), but decreased in NO treated IFM compared to control (0.5 mmol SNAP 14.4 ± 4 %, p < 0.05; 1 mmol GSNO 13.8 ± 4 %, p < 0.05). NO donor administration to isolated SSM increased SNO of mtCx43 by 109.2 ± 15.8 %. Nitrite application (48 nmol) to mice was also associated with elevated SNO of mtCx43 by 59.3 ± 18.2 % (p < 0.05). IPC by four cycles of 5 min of ischemia and 5 min of reperfusion increased SNO of mtCx43 by 41.6 ± 1.7 % (p < 0.05) when compared to control perfused rat hearts. These data suggest that SNO of mtCx43 increases mitochondrial permeability, especially for potassium and leads to increased ROS formation. The increased amount of SNO mtCx43 by IPC or nitrite administration may link NO and Cx43 in the signal transduction cascade of cardioprotective interventions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0433-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4168224  PMID: 25115184
Cardioprotection; Connexin hemichannel; Ischemic preconditioning (IPC); S-nitrosation (SNO); Nitric oxide (NO)
16.  Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 1A: a key regulator of cardiac fibroblast activation and extracellular matrix remodeling in the heart 
Basic research in cardiology  2011;106(6):1023-1039.
Cardiac fibroblasts become activated and differentiate to smooth muscle-like myofibroblasts in response to hypertension and myocardial infarction (MI), resulting in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, scar formation and impaired cardiac function. cAMP and cGMP-dependent signaling have been implicated in cardiac fibroblast activation and ECM synthesis. Dysregulation of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity/expression is also associated with various diseases and several PDE inhibitors are currently available or in development for treating these pathological conditions. The objective of this study is to define and characterize the specific PDE isoform that is altered during cardiac fibroblast activation and functionally important for regulating myofibroblast activation and ECM synthesis. We have found that Ca2+/calmodulin-stimulated PDE1A isoform is specifically induced in activated cardiac myofibroblasts stimulated by Ang II and TGF-β in vitro as well as in vivo within fibrotic regions of mouse, rat, and human diseased hearts. Inhibition of PDE1A function via PDE1-selective inhibitor or PDE1A shRNA significantly reduced Ang II or TGF-β-induced myofibroblast activation, ECM synthesis, and pro-fibrotic gene expression in rat cardiac fibroblasts. Moreover, the PDE1 inhibitor attenuated isoproterenol-induced interstitial fibrosis in mice. Mechanistic studies revealed that PDE1A modulates unique pools of cAMP and cGMP, predominantly in perinuclear and nuclear regions of cardiac fibroblasts. Further, both cAMP-Epac-Rap1 and cGMP-PKG signaling was involved in PDE1A-mediated regulation of collagen synthesis. These results suggest that induction of PDE1A plays a critical role in cardiac fibroblast activation and cardiac fibrosis, and targeting PDE1A may lead to regression of the adverse cardiac remodeling associated with various cardiac diseases.
PMCID: PMC4114346  PMID: 22012077
Cyclic nucleotide; Phosphodiesterase; Myofibroblast; Cardiac fibrosis
17.  Impaired Cardiometabolic Responses to Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 in Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(4):365.
Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP-1) has insulin-like effects on myocardial glucose uptake which may contribute to its beneficial effects in the setting of myocardial ischemia. Whether these effects are different in the setting of obesity or type 2 diabetes (T2DM) requires investigation. We examined the cardiometabolic actions of GLP-1 (7–36) in lean and obese/T2DM humans, and in lean and obese Ossabaw swine. GLP-1 significantly augmented myocardial glucose uptake under resting conditions in lean humans, but this effect was impaired in T2DM. This observation was confirmed and extended in swine, where GLP-1 effects to augment myocardial glucose uptake during exercise were seen in lean but not in obese swine. GLP-1 did not increase myocardial oxygen consumption or blood flow in humans or in swine. Impaired myocardial responsiveness to GLP-1 in obesity was not associated with any apparent alterations in myocardial or coronary GLP1-R expression. No evidence for GLP-1 mediated activation of cAMP/PKA or AMPK signaling in lean or obese hearts was observed. GLP-1 treatment augmented p38-MAPK activity in lean, but not obese cardiac tissue. Taken together, these data provide novel evidence indicating that the cardiometabolic effects of GLP-1 are attenuated in obesity and T2DM, via mechanisms that may involve impaired p38-MAPK signaling.
PMCID: PMC3731771  PMID: 23764734
Obesity; diabetes; GLP-1; cardiac; glucose; metabolism
18.  The physiological significance of a coronary stenosis differentially affects contractility and mitochondrial function in viable chronically dysfunctional myocardium 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(4):10.1007/s00395-013-0354-0.
The reversibility of viable dysfunctional myocardium after revascularization is variable and the reasons for this are unknown. Using 2D-DIGE, we tested the hypothesis that this could reflect the extent of molecular remodeling of myocardial tissue in the absence of infarction. Swine with a progressive left anterior descending (LAD) stenosis were studied 2 months (n = 18) or 3 months (n = 22) post-instrumentation. Coronary flow reserve (vasodilated/rest) was severely reduced at 2 months (LAD 2.6 ± 0.4 versus 5.1 ± 0.4 in normal, p <0.05) and became critically impaired after 3 months (LAD 1.1 ± 0.2, p <0.05 vs. 2 months). Despite progression in stenosis severity, reductions in wall thickening at 2 months (LAD 37 ± 4 % vs. remote 86 ± 9 %, p <0.05) were unchanged at 3 months (LAD 32 ± 3 %, p = ns). Contractile dysfunction was primarily related to reductions (LAD/normal) in contractile proteins which were not affected by stenosis severity (e.g., troponin T, 2 months 0.82 ± 0.03 vs. 0.74 ± 0.03 at 3 months, p-ns). In contrast, mitochondrial function and proteins were normal at 2 months but declined with progression to a critical stenosis (state 3 respiration at 3 months 145 ± 13 vs. 216 ± 5 ng-atoms O2 mg−1 min−1 at 2 months, p <0.05). In a similar fashion, increases in stress (e.g., αB-crystalline 2.13 ± 0.2 vs. 1.17 ± 0.13 at 2 months, p <0.05) and cytoskeletal proteins (e.g., desmin 1.63 ± 0.12 vs. 1.24 ± 0.10 at 2 months, p <0.05) only developed with more advanced remodeling from a critical stenosis. We conclude that similar degrees of chronic contractile dysfunction can have diverse intrinsic molecular adaptations to ischemia. This spectrum of adaptations may underlie variability in the time course and extent of reversibility in viable chronically dysfunctional myocardium after revascularization.
PMCID: PMC3839678  PMID: 23649354
Hibernating myocardium; Stunned myocardium; Proteomics; Metabolism; Mitochondria
19.  Mitochondrial KATP channel involvement in angiotensin II-induced autophagy in vascular smooth muscle cells 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(4):416.
Autophagy has emerged as a powerful process in the response to cellular injury. The present study was designed to investigate signal transduction pathways in angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced autophagy. Rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) were stimulated with different doses of Ang II (10−9–10−5 mol/L) for different time periods (6–72 h). Incubation with Ang II increased the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased the LC3-II to LC3-I ratio, increased beclin-1 expression, and decreased SQSTM1/p62 expression in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In addition, Ang II increased autophagosome formation. Increased ROS production induced by Ang II was inhibited by Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1) blockers (Olmesartan and Candesartan, ARB), a NADPH Oxidase inhibitor (apocynin), and mitochondrial KATP channels inhibitor (5-hydroxydecanoate, 5HD). Ang II (10−7 mol/L, 48 h)-induced increase in the LC3-II to LC3-I ratio, the formation of autophagosomes, expression of beclin-1 and decrease in the expression of SQSTM1/p62 were also inhibited by pretreatment with 3-methyladenine or bafilomycin A1 (inhibitors of autophagy), olmesartan and candesartan (in dose-dependent manners), apocynin, 5HD, and siRNA Atg5. Our results indicate that Ang II increases autophagy levels via activation of AT1 receptor and NADPH oxidase. Mitochondrial KATP channels also play an important role in Ang II-induced autophagy. Our results may provide a new strategy for treatment of cardiovascular diseases with Ang II.
PMCID: PMC4090747  PMID: 24847907
Angiotensin II (Ang II); NADPH oxidase; Mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channels; Autophagy; LC3-II
20.  A Highly Sensitive and Accurate Method to Quantify Absolute Numbers of c-kit+ Cardiac Stem Cells Following Transplantation in Mice 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(3):346.
Although transplantation of c-kit+ cardiac stem cells (CSCs) alleviates post-myocardial infarction left ventricular dysfunction, there are no reliable methods that enable measurement of the absolute number of CSCs that persist in the recipient heart. To overcome this limitation, we developed a highly sensitive and accurate method to quantify the absolute number of murine CSCs after transplantation. This method has two unique features: i) real-time PCR-based detection of a novel male-specific, multiple-copy gene, Rbmy, which significantly increases the sensitivity of detection of male donor cells in a female recipient, and ii) an internal standard, which permits quantification of the absolute number of CSCs as well as the total number of cells in the recipient organ. Female C57BL/6 mice underwent coronary occlusion and reperfusion; 2 days later, 105 male mouse CSCs were injected intramyocardially. Tissues were analyzed by real-time PCR at serial time points. In the risk region, >75% of CSCs present at 5 min were lost in the ensuing 24 h; only 7.6±2.1% of the CSCs present at 5 min could still be found at 7 days after transplantation and only 2.8±0.5% (i.e., 1,224±230 cells/heart) at 35 days. Thus, even after direct intramyocardial injection, the total number of CSCs that remain in the murine heart is minimal (at 24 h, ~10% of the cells injected; at 35 days, ~1%). This new quantitative method of stem cell detection, which enables measurement of absolute cell number, should be useful to optimize cell-based therapies, not only for CSCs but also for other stem cells and other organs.
PMCID: PMC3684056  PMID: 23549981
Stem cells; Stem cell therapy; Myocardial infarction; Quantitative PCR
21.  Targeted ablation of the histidine-rich Ca2+-binding protein (HRC) gene is associated with abnormal SR Ca2+-cycling and severe pathology under pressure-overload stress 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(3):344.
The histidine-rich Ca2+-binding protein (HRC) is located in the lumen of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and exhibits high capacity Ca2+ binding properties. Overexpression of HRC in the heart resulted in impaired SR Ca2+ uptake and depressed relaxation through its interaction with SERCA2a. However, the functional significance of HRC in overall regulation of calcium cycling and contractility is not currently well defined. To further elucidate the role of HRC in vivo under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, we generated and characterized HRC-knockout (KO) mice. The KO mice were morphologically and histologically normal compared to wild type (WT) mice. At the cellular level, ablation of HRC resulted in significantly enhanced contractility, Ca2+ transients, and maximal SR Ca2+ uptake rates in the heart. However, after-contractions were developed in 50% of HRC-KO cardiomyocytes, compared to 11% in WT mice under stress conditions of high frequency stimulation (5 Hz) and isoproterenol application. A parallel examination of the electrical activity revealed significant increases in the occurrence of Ca2+ spontaneous SR Ca2+ release and delayed after depolarizations (DADs) with ISO in HRC-KO, compared to WT cells. The frequency of Ca2+ sparks was also significantly higher in HRC-KO cells with ISO, consistent with the elevated SR Ca2+ load in the KO cells. Furthermore, HRC-KO cardiomyocytes showed significantly deteriorated cell contractility and Ca2+-cycling caused possibly by depressed SERCA2a expression after transverse-aortic constriction (TAC). Also HRC null mice exhibited severe cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, pulmonary edema and decreased survival after TAC. Our results indicate that ablation of HRC is associated with poorly regulated SR Ca2+-cycling, and severe pathology under pressure-overload stress, suggesting an essential role of HRC in maintaining the integrity of cardiac function.
PMCID: PMC4000265  PMID: 23553082
Calcium cycling; sarcoplasmic reticulum; hypertrophy; fibrosis; heart failure; pulmonary edema
22.  The role of capillary transit time heterogeneity in myocardial oxygenation and ischemic heart disease 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(3):409.
Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is characterized by an imbalance between oxygen supply and demand, most frequently caused by coronary artery disease (CAD) that reduces myocardial perfusion. In some patients, IHD is ascribed to microvascular dysfunction (MVD): microcirculatory disturbances that reduce myocardial perfusion at the level of myocardial pre-arterioles and arterioles. In a minority of cases, chest pain and reductions in myocardial flow reserve may even occur in patients without any other demonstrable systemic or cardiac disease. In this topical review, we address whether these findings might be caused by impaired myocardial oxygen extraction, caused by capillary flow disturbances further downstream. Myocardial blood flow (MBF) increases approximately linearly with oxygen utilization, but efficient oxygen extraction at high MBF values is known to depend on the parallel reduction of capillary transit time heterogeneity (CTH). Consequently, changes in capillary wall morphology or blood viscosity may impair myocardial oxygen extraction by preventing capillary flow homogenization. Indeed, a recent re-analysis of oxygen transport in tissue shows that elevated CTH can reduce tissue oxygenation by causing a functional shunt of oxygenated blood through the tissue. We review the combined effects of MBF, CTH, and tissue oxygen tension on myocardial oxygen supply. We show that as CTH increases, normal vasodilator responses must be attenuated in order to reduce the degree of functional shunting and improve blood-tissue oxygen concentration gradients to allow sufficient myocardial oxygenation. Theoretically, CTH can reach levels such that increased metabolic demands cannot be met, resulting in tissue hypoxia and angina in the absence of flow-limiting CAD or MVD. We discuss these predictions in the context of MVD, myocardial infarction, and reperfusion injury.
PMCID: PMC4013440  PMID: 24743925
Microvascular dysfunction (MVD); Ischemic heart disease (IHD); Microcirculation; Oxygen transport; Myocardial blood flow (MBF); Capillary transit time heterogeneity (CTH); Reperfusion injury; Myocardial capillaries; Glycocalyx; Connexins; Pericyte
23.  Impaired left ventricular function in the presence of preserved ejection in chronic hypertensive conscious pigs 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2012;107(6):298.
Systolic function is often evaluated by measuring ejection fraction and its preservation is often assimilated with the lack of impairment of systolic left ventricular (LV) function. Considering the left ventricle as a muscular pump, we explored LV function during chronic hypertension independently from increased afterload conditions. Fourteen conscious and chronically instrumented pigs received continuous infusion of either angiotensin II (n=8) or saline (n=6) during 28 days. Hemodynamic recordings were regularly performed in the presence and 1h after stopping angiotensin II infusion to evaluate intrinsic LV function. Throughout the protocol, mean arterial pressure steadily increased by 55±4 mmHg in angiotensin II-treated animals. There were no significant changes in stroke volume, LV fractional shortening or LV wall thickening, indicating the lack of alterations in LV ejection. In contrast, we observed maladaptive changes with 1) the lack of reduction in isovolumic contraction and relaxation durations with heart rate increases, 2) abnormally blunted isovolumic contraction and relaxation responses to dobutamine and 3) a linear correlation between isovolumic contraction and relaxation durations. None of these changes were observed in saline-infused animals. In conclusion, we provide evidence of impaired LV function with concomitant isovolumic contraction and relaxation abnormalities during chronic hypertension while ejection remains preserved and no sign of heart failure is present. The evaluation under unloaded conditions shows intrinsic LV abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3980587  PMID: 22961595
Angiotensin II; Animals; Diastole; Female; Hemodynamics; Hypertension; physiopathology; Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular; chemically induced; Myocardial Contraction; Swine; Ventricular Function, Left; isovolumic contraction; isovolumic relaxation; hypertension; left ventricular function
24.  Interferon-gamma induced adipose tissue inflammation is linked to endothelial dysfunction in type 2 diabetic mice 
Basic research in cardiology  2011;106(6):1135-1145.
Interferon-gamma (IFNγ) has previously been associated with immuno-mediated inflammation in diet-induced obesity and type 1 diabetes. This study sought to define the role of IFNγ-induced adipose tissue inflammation in endothelial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. We examined mesenteric adipose tissue (MAT) inflammation, and endothelial function of small mesenteric artery (SMA) in control mice (m Leprdb), diabetic mice (Leprdb), m Leprdb treated with IFNγ, and Leprdb treated with anti-IFNγ or anti-monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (anti-MCP-1). mRNA and protein expression of IFNγ and MCP-1 were increased in MAT of Leprdb, accompanied by increased T-lymphocyte and macrophage infiltration. Anti-IFNγ reduced MAT inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokine expression in Leprdb, while IFNγ treatment showed the opposite effects in m Leprdb. Acetylcholine (ACh)-induced vasorelaxation of SMA was impaired in Leprdb versus m Leprdb, but sodium nitro-prusside (SNP)-induced vasorelaxation was comparable. Both anti-IFNγ and anti-MCP-1 improved endothelial function of Leprdb, while IFNγ treatment impaired endothelial function of m Leprdb. Superoxide production was higher in both MAT and SMA of Leprdb mice, and anti-IFNγ reduced MAT and SMA superoxide production. Macrophage accumulation in the adventitia of SMA, and mRNA expression of MCP-1 in SMA were increased in Leprdb and IFNγ-treated m Leprdb, but reduced in anti-IFNγ treated Leprdb. These findings suggest IFNγ has a key role in the regulation of visceral adipose tissue inflammatory response and endothelial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3947811  PMID: 21826531
Adipose; Diabetes; Endothelial function; Inflammation; Oxidative stress
25.  SCH 79797, a selective PAR1 antagonist, limits myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury in rat hearts 
Basic research in cardiology  2007;102(4):350-358.
Myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is partly mediated by thrombin. In support, the functional inhibition of thrombin has been shown to decrease infarct size after I/R. Several cellular responses to thrombin are mediated by a G-protein coupled protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1). However, the role of PAR1 in myocardial I/R injury has not been well characterized. Therefore, we hypothesized that PAR1 inhibition will reduce the amount of myocardial I/R injury. After we detected the presence of PAR1 mRNA and protein in the rat heart by RT-PCR and immunoblot analysis, we assessed the potential protective role of SCH 79797, a selective PAR1 antagonist, in two rat models of myocardial I/R injury. SCH 79797 treatment immediately before or during ischemia reduced myocardial necrosis following I/R in the intact rat heart. This response was dose-dependent with the optimal dose being 25 μg/kg IV. Likewise, SCH 79797 treatment before ischemia in the isolated heart model reduced infarct size and increased ventricular recovery following I/R in the isolated heart model with an optimal concentration of 1 μM. This reduction was abolished by a PAR1 selective agonist. SCH 79797-induced resistance to myocardial ischemia was abolished by wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI3 kinase; L-NMA, a NOS inhibitor; and glibenclamide, a nonselective KATP channel blocker. PAR1 activating peptide, wortmannin, L-NMA and glibenclamide alone had no effect on functional recovery or infarct size. A single treatment of SCH 79797 administered prior to or during ischemia confers immediate cardioprotection suggesting a potential therapeutic role of PAR1 antagonist in the treatment of injury resulting from myocardial ischemia and reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC3942648  PMID: 17468933
myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury; protease-activated receptors; thrombin receptor antagonist

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