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1.  Wave Propagation of Myocardial Stretch: Correlation with Myocardial Stiffness 
Basic research in cardiology  2014;109(6):438.
The mechanism of flow propagation during diastole in the left ventricle (LV) has been well described. Little is known about the associated waves propagating along the heart wall s. These waves may have a mechanism similar to pulse wave propagation in arteries. The major goal of the study was to evaluate the effect of myocardial stiffness and preload on this wave transmission.
Longitudinal late diastolic deformation and wave speed (Vp) of myocardial stretch in the anterior LV wall were measured using sonomicrometry in sixteen pigs. Animals with normal and altered myocardial stiffness (acute myocardial infarction) were studied with and without preload alterations. Elastic modulus estimated from Vp (EVP; Moens-Korteweg equation) was compared to incremental elastic modulus obtained from exponential end -diastolic stress-strain relation (ESS). Myocardial distensibility and α-and β-coefficients of stress-strain relations were calculated.
Vp was higher at reperfusion compared to baseline (2.6±1.3 m/s vs. 1.3±0.4 m/s; p=0.005) and best correlated with ESS (r 2=0.80, p<0.0001), β-coefficient (r2=0.78, p<0.0001), distensibility (r2=0.47, p=0.005), and wall thickness/diameter ratio (r2=0.42, p=0.009). Elastic moduli (EVP and ESS) were strongly correlated (r2=0.83, p<0.0001). Increasing preload increased Vp and EVP and decreased distensibility. At multivariate analysis, ESS, wall thickness, and end-diastolic and systolic LV pressures were independent predictors of Vp (r2model=0.83, p<0.0001).
The main determinants of wave propagation of longitudinal myocardial stretch were myocardial stiffness and LV geometry and pressure. This local wave speed could potentially be measured noninvasively by echocardiography.
PMCID: PMC4353585  PMID: 25193091
Diastole; diastolic function; echocardiography; imaging; myocardial infarction; myocardial stiffness
Basic research in cardiology  2014;109(5):426.
This study examined the cardiovascular effects of GLP-1 (7–36) or (9–36) on myocardial oxygen consumption, function and systemic hemodynamics in vivo during normal perfusion and during acute, regional myocardial ischemia. Lean Ossabaw swine received systemic infusions of saline vehicle or GLP-1 (7–36 or 9–36) at 1.5, 3.0, and 10.0 pmol/kg/min in sequence for 30 min at each dose, followed by ligation of the left circumflex artery during continued infusion at 10.0 pmol/kg/min. Systemic GLP-1 (9–36) had no effect on coronary flow, blood pressure, heart rate or indices of cardiac function before or during regional myocardial ischemia. Systemic GLP-1 (7–36) exerted no cardiometabolic or hemodynamic effects prior to ischemia. During ischemia, GLP-1 (7–36) increased cardiac output by approximately 2 L/min relative to vehicle-controls (p=0.003). This response was not diminished by treatment with the non-depolarizing ganglionic blocker hexamethonium. Left ventricular pressure-volume loops measured during steady state conditions with graded occlusion of the inferior vena cava to assess load-independent contractility revealed that GLP-1 (7–36) produced marked increases in end diastolic volume (74 ± 1 to 92 ± 5 mL; p=0.03) and volume axis intercept (8 ± 2 to 26 ± 8; p=0.05), without any change in the slope of the end systolic pressure volume relationship vs. vehicle during regional ischemia. GLP-1 (9–36) produced no changes in any of these parameters compared to vehicle. These findings indicate that short-term systemic treatment with GLP-1 (7–36) but not GLP-1 (9–36) significantly augments cardiac output during regional myocardial ischemia, via increases in ventricular preload without changes in cardiac inotropy.
PMCID: PMC4259250  PMID: 25005062
Glucagon like peptide 1; ischemic injury; cardioprotection; ESPVR; contractility
3.  microRNA-144: The ‘What’ and ‘How’ of Remote Ischemic Conditioning? 
Basic research in cardiology  2014;109(5):429.
PMCID: PMC4149218  PMID: 25080349
4.  Vagal nerve stimulation started just prior to reperfusion limits infarct size and no-reflow 
Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) started prior to, or during, ischemia has been shown to reduce infarct size. Here, we investigated the effect of VNS when started just prior to, and continued during early, reperfusion on infarct size and no-reflow and studied the underlying mechanisms. For this purpose, swine (13 VNS, 10 sham) underwent 45 min mid-LAD occlusion followed by 120 min of reperfusion. VNS was started 5 min prior to reperfusion and continued until 15 min of reperfusion. Area at risk, area of no-reflow (% of infarct area) and infarct size (% of area at risk), circulating cytokines, and regional myocardial leukocyte influx were assessed after 120 min of reperfusion. VNS significantly reduced infarct size from 67 ± 2 % in sham to 54 ± 5 % and area of no-reflow from 54 ± 6 % in sham to 32 ± 6 %. These effects were accompanied by reductions in neutrophil (~40 %) and macrophage (~60 %) infiltration in the infarct area (all p < 0.05), whereas systemic circulating plasma levels of TNFα and IL6 were not affected. The degree of cardioprotection could not be explained by the VNS-induced bradycardia or the VNS-induced decrease in the double product of heart rate and left ventricular systolic pressure. In the presence of NO-synthase inhibitor LNNA, VNS no longer attenuated infarct size and area of no-reflow, which was paralleled by similarly unaffected regional leukocyte infiltration. In conclusion, VNS is a promising novel adjunctive therapy that limits reperfusion injury in a large animal model of acute myocardial infarction.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0508-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4549380  PMID: 26306761
Cardioprotection; Macrophages; Myocardial infarction; Neutrophils; Reperfusion injury; Swine
Basic research in cardiology  2009;104(3):228-237.
Although the adaptive immune system is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of viral myocarditis, the role of the innate immune system has not been well defined. To address this deficiency, we employed a unique line of mice that harbor a genomic “knock in” of a mutated TNF gene lacking the AU rich element (TNFΔARE/ΔARE) that is critical for TNF mRNA stability and translation, in order to examine the contribution of the innate immune system in encephalomyocarditis-induced myocarditis (EMCV). Heterozygous mice (TNFΔARE/+) were infected with 500 plaque-forming units of EMCV. TNFΔARE/+mice had a significantly higher 14-day mortality and myocardial inflammation when compared to littermate control mice. Virologic studies showed that the viral load at 14 days was significantly lower in the hearts of TNFΔARE/+ mice. TNFΔARE/+ mice had an exaggerated proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine response in the heart following EMCV infection. Modulation of the innate immune response in TNFΔARE/+ mice by the late administration of prednisolone resulted in a significant improvement in survival and decreased cardiac inflammation, whereas early administration of prednisolone resulted in a blunted innate response and increased mortality in littermate control mice. Viewed together, these data suggest that the duration and degree of activation of the innate immune system plays a critical role in determining host outcomes in experimental viral myocarditis.
PMCID: PMC4541794  PMID: 19159057
myocardial inflammation; innate immunity; cytokines
6.  The Ca2+-activated cation channel TRPM4 is a negative regulator of angiotensin II-induced cardiac hypertrophy 
Cardiac muscle adapts to hemodynamic stress by altering myocyte size and function, resulting in cardiac hypertrophy. Alteration in myocyte calcium homeostasis is known to be an initial signal in cardiac hypertrophy signaling. Transient receptor potential melastatin 4 protein (TRPM4) is a calcium-activated non-selective cation channel, which plays a role in regulating calcium influx and calcium-dependent cell functions in many cell types including cardiomyocytes. Selective deletion of TRPM4 from the heart muscle in mice resulted in an increased hypertrophic growth after chronic angiotensin (AngII) treatment, compared to WT mice. The enhanced hypertrophic response was also traceable by the increased expression of hypertrophy-related genes like Rcan1, ANP, and α-Actin. Intracellular calcium measurements on isolated ventricular myocytes showed significantly increased store-operated calcium entry upon AngII treatment in myocytes lacking the TRPM4 channel. Elevated intracellular calcium is a key factor in the development of pathological cardiac hypertrophy, leading to the activation of intracellular signaling pathways. In agreement with this, we observed significantly higher Rcan1 mRNA level, calcineurin enzyme activity and protein level in lysates from TRPM4-deficient mice heart compared to WT after AngII treatment. Collectively, these observations are consistent with a model in which TRPM4 is a regulator of calcium homeostasis in cardiomyocytes after AngII stimulation. TRPM4 contributes to the regulation of driving force for store-operated calcium entry and thereby the activation of the calcineurin–NFAT pathway and the development of pathological hypertrophy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0501-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4456993  PMID: 26043922
Hypertrophy; TRPM4; Angiotensin; Calcineurin; Store-operated calcium entry
7.  Transgenic systems for unequivocal identification of cardiac myocyte nuclei and analysis of cardiomyocyte cell cycle status 
Even though the mammalian heart has been investigated for many years, there are still uncertainties in the fields of cardiac cell biology and regeneration with regard to exact fractions of cardiomyocytes (CMs) at different developmental stages, their plasticity after cardiac lesion and also their basal turnover rate. A main shortcoming is the accurate identification of CM and the demonstration of CM division. Therefore, an in vivo model taking advantage of a live reporter-based identification of CM nuclei and their cell cycle status is needed. In this technical report, we describe the generation and characterization of embryonic stem cells and transgenic mice expressing a fusion protein of human histone 2B and the red fluorescence protein mCherry under control of the CM specific αMHC promoter. This fluorescence label allows unequivocal identification and quantitation of CM nuclei and nuclearity in isolated cells and native tissue slices. In ventricles of adults, we determined a fraction of <20 % CMs and binucleation of 77–90 %, while in atria a CM fraction of 30 % and a binucleation index of 14 % were found. We combined this transgenic system with the CAG-eGFP-anillin transgene, which identifies cell division and established a novel screening assay for cell cycle-modifying substances in isolated, postnatal CMs. Our transgenic live reporter-based system enables reliable identification of CM nuclei and determination of CM fractions and nuclearity in heart tissue. In combination with CAG-eGFP-anillin-mice, the cell cycle status of CMs can be monitored in detail enabling screening for proliferation-inducing substances in vitro and in vivo.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0489-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4414935  PMID: 25925989
Cardiac myocyte; Cell cycle; Genetically altered mice; Proliferation; miRNA
8.  Cardiac myosin-binding protein C: a potential early biomarker of myocardial injury 
Cardiac troponins are released and cleared slowly after myocardial injury, complicating the diagnosis of early, and recurrent, acute myocardial infarction. Cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyC) is a similarly cardiac-restricted protein that may have different release/clearance kinetics. Using novel antibodies raised against the cardiac-specific N-terminus of cMyC, we used confocal microscopy, immunoblotting and immunoassay to document its location and release. In rodents, we demonstrate rapid release of cMyC using in vitro and in vivo models of acute myocardial infarction. In patients, with ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI, n = 20), undergoing therapeutic ablation of septal hypertrophy (TASH, n = 20) or having coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG, n = 20), serum was collected prospectively and frequently. cMyC appears in the serum as full-length and fragmented protein. Compared to cTnT measured using a contemporary high-sensitivity commercial assay, cMyC peaks earlier (STEMI, 9.3 ± 3.1 vs 11.8 ± 3.4 h, P < 0.007; TASH, 9.7 ± 1.4 vs 21.6 ± 1.4 h, P < 0.0001), accumulates more rapidly (during first 4 h after TASH, 25.8 ± 1.9 vs 4.0 ± 0.4 ng/L/min, P < 0.0001) and disappears more rapidly (post-CABG, decay half-time 5.5 ± 0.8 vs 22 ± 5 h, P < 0.0001). Our results demonstrate that following defined myocardial injury, the rise and fall in the serum of cMyC is more rapid than that of cTnT. We speculate that these characteristics could enable earlier diagnosis of myocardial infarction and reinfarction in suspected non-STEMI, a population not included in this early translational study.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0478-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4383815  PMID: 25837837
Ischemia; Myocardial infarction; Angina
9.  Exendin-4 protects against post-myocardial infarction remodelling via specific actions on inflammation and the extracellular matrix 
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an insulin-releasing hormone clinically exploited for glycaemic control in diabetes, which also confers acute cardioprotection and benefits in experimental/clinical heart failure. We specifically investigated the role of the GLP-1 mimetic, exendin-4, in post-myocardial infarction (MI) remodelling, which is a key contributor to heart failure. Adult female normoglycaemic mice underwent coronary artery ligation/sham surgery prior to infusion with exendin-4/vehicle for 4 weeks. Metabolic parameters and infarct sizes were comparable between groups. Exendin-4 protected against cardiac dysfunction and chamber dilatation post-MI and improved survival. Furthermore, exendin-4 modestly decreased cardiomyocyte hypertrophy/apoptosis but markedly attenuated interstitial fibrosis and myocardial inflammation post-MI. This was associated with altered extracellular matrix (procollagen IαI/IIIαI, connective tissue growth factor, fibronectin, TGF-β3) and inflammatory (IL-10, IL-1β, IL-6) gene expression in exendin-4-treated mice, together with modulation of both Akt/GSK-3β and Smad2/3 signalling. Exendin-4 also altered macrophage response gene expression in the absence of direct actions on cardiac fibroblast differentiation, suggesting cardioprotective effects occurring secondary to modulation of inflammation. Our findings indicate that exendin-4 protects against post-MI remodelling via preferential actions on inflammation and the extracellular matrix independently of its established actions on glycaemic control, thereby suggesting that selective targeting of GLP-1 signalling may be required to realise its clear therapeutic potential for post-MI heart failure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0476-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4344953  PMID: 25725809
Glucagon-like peptide-1; Myocardial infarction; Cardiac remodelling; Extracellular matrix; Inflammation
10.  Cyclosporine A reduces microvascular obstruction and preserves left ventricular function deterioration following myocardial ischemia and reperfusion 
Postconditioning and cyclosporine A prevent mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening providing cardioprotection during ischemia/reperfusion. Whether microvascular obstruction is affected by these interventions is largely unknown. Pigs subjected to coronary occlusion for 1 h followed by 3 h of reperfusion were assigned to control (n = 8), postconditioning (n = 9) or cyclosporine A intravenous infusion 10–15 min before the end of ischemia (n = 8). Postconditioning was induced by 8 cycles of repeated 30-s balloon inflation and deflation. After 3 h of reperfusion magnetic resonance imaging, triphenyltetrazolium chloride/Evans blue staining and histopathology were performed. Microvascular obstruction (MVO, percentage of gadolinium-hyperenhanced area) was measured early (3 min) and late (12 min) after contrast injection. Infarct size with double staining was smaller in cyclosporine (46.2 ± 3.1 %, P = 0.016) and postconditioning pigs (47.6 ± 3.9 %, P = 0.008) versus controls (53.8 ± 4.1 %). Late MVO was significantly reduced by cyclosporine (13.9 ± 9.6 %, P = 0.047) but not postconditioning (23.6 ± 11.7 %, P = 0.66) when compared with controls (32.0 ± 16.9 %). Myocardial blood flow in the late MVO was improved with cyclosporine versus controls (0.30 ± 0.06 vs 0.21 ± 0.03 ml/g/min, P = 0.002) and was inversely correlated with late-MVO extent (R2 = 0.93, P < 0.0001). Deterioration of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) between baseline and 3 h of reperfusion was smaller with cyclosporine (−7.9 ± 2.4 %, P = 0.008) but not postconditioning (−12.0 ± 5.5 %, P = 0.22) when compared with controls (−16.4 ± 5.5 %). In the three groups, infarct size (β = −0.69, P < 0.001) and late MVO (β = −0.33, P = 0.02) were independent predictors of LVEF deterioration following ischemia/reperfusion (R2 = 0.73, P < 0.001). Despite both cyclosporine A and postconditioning reduce infarct size, only cyclosporine A infusion had a beneficial effect on microvascular damage and was associated with better preserved LV function when compared with controls.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0475-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4342514  PMID: 25720581
Myocardial infarction; Cyclosporine A; Postconditioning; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging; Microvascular obstruction
11.  Plasma from human volunteers subjected to remote ischemic preconditioning protects human endothelial cells from hypoxia–induced cell damage 
Short repeated cycles of peripheral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) can protect distant organs from subsequent prolonged I/R injury; a phenomenon known as remote ischemic preconditioning (RIPC). A RIPC-mediated release of humoral factors might play a key role in this protection and vascular endothelial cells are potential targets for these secreted factors. In the present study, RIPC-plasma obtained from healthy male volunteers was tested for its ability to protect human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVEC) from hypoxia–induced cell damage. 10 healthy male volunteers were subjected to a RIPC-protocol consisting of 4 × 5 min inflation/deflation of a blood pressure cuff located at the upper arm. Plasma was collected before (T0; control), directly after (T1) and 1 h after (T2) the RIPC procedure. HUVEC were subjected to 24 h hypoxia damage and simultaneously incubated with 5 % of the respective RIPC-plasma. Cell damage was evaluated by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)-measurements. Western blot experiments of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1alpha), phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), protein kinase B (AKT) and extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK-1/2) were performed. Furthermore, the concentrations of hVEGF were evaluated in the RIPC-plasma by sandwich ELISA. Hypoxia–induced cell damage was significantly reduced by plasma T1 (p = 0.02 vs T0). The protective effect of plasma T1 was accompanied by an augmentation of the intracellular HIF1alpha (p = 0.01 vs T0) and increased phosphorylation of ERK-1/2 (p = 0.03 vs T0). Phosphorylation of AKT and STAT5 remained unchanged. Analysis of the protective RIPC-plasma T1 showed significantly reduced levels of hVEGF (p = 0.01 vs T0). RIPC plasma protects endothelial cells from hypoxia–induced cell damage and humoral mediators as well as intracellular HIF1alpha may be involved.
PMCID: PMC4341024  PMID: 25716080
Remote conditioning; Human endothelium; Signalling kinases; Translational study
12.  Loss of dihydrolipoyl succinyltransferase (DLST) leads to reduced resting heart rate in the zebrafish 
The genetic underpinnings of heart rate regulation are only poorly understood. In search for genetic regulators of cardiac pacemaker activity, we isolated in a large-scale mutagenesis screen the embryonic lethal, recessive zebrafish mutant schneckentempo (ste). Homozygous ste mutants exhibit a severely reduced resting heart rate with normal atrio-ventricular conduction and contractile function. External electrical pacing reveals that defective excitation generation in cardiac pacemaker cells underlies bradycardia in ste−/− mutants. By positional cloning and gene knock-down analysis we find that loss of dihydrolipoyl succinyltransferase (DLST) function causes the ste phenotype. The mitochondrial enzyme DLST is an essential player in the citric acid cycle that warrants proper adenosine-tri-phosphate (ATP) production. Accordingly, ATP levels are significantly diminished in ste−/− mutant embryos, suggesting that limited energy supply accounts for reduced cardiac pacemaker activity in ste−/− mutants. We demonstrate here for the first time that the mitochondrial enzyme DLST plays an essential role in the modulation of the vertebrate heart rate by controlling ATP production in the heart.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-015-0468-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4335124  PMID: 25697682
Bradycardia; Pacemaker cell function; Mitochondria; Dihydrolipoyl succinyltransferase; ATP
13.  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
14.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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