Endothelial-cardiomyocyte crosstalk enhances pharmacological cardioprotection

Thorsten M. Leucker, Martin Bienengraeber, Maria Muravyeva, Ines Baotic, Dorothee Weihrauch, Anna K. Brzezinska, David C. Warltier, Judy R. Kersten, Phillip F. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Endothelial cells (EC) serve a paracrine function to enhance signaling in cardiomyocytes (CM), and conversely, CM secrete factors that impact EC function. Understanding how EC interact with CM may be critically important in the context of ischemia-reperfusion injury, where EC might promote CM survival. We used isoflurane as a pharmacological stimulus to enhance EC protection of CM against hypoxia and reoxygenation injury. Triggering of intracellular signal transduction pathways culminating in the enhanced production of nitric oxide (NO) appears to be a central component of pharmacologically induced cardioprotection. Although the endothelium is well recognized as a regulator for vascular tone, little attention has been given to its potential importance in mediating cardioprotection. In the current investigation, EC-CM in co-culture were used to test the hypothesis that EC contribute to isoflurane-enhanced protection of CM against hypoxia and reoxygenation injury and that this protection depends on hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF1α) and NO. CM were protected against cell injury [lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release] to a greater extent in the presence vs. absence of isoflurane-stimulated EC (1.7 ± 0.2 vs. 4.58 ± 0.8 fold change LDH release), and this protection was NO-dependent. Isoflurane enhanced release of NO in EC (1103 ± 58 vs. 702 ± 92. pmol/mg protein) and EC-CM in co-culture sustained NO release during reoxygenation. In contrast, lentiviral mediated HIF1α knockdown in EC decreased basal and isoflurane stimulated NO release in an eNOS dependent manner (517 ± 32 vs. 493 ± 38. pmol/mg protein) and prevented the sustained increase in NO during reoxygenation when co-cultured. Opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), an index of mitochondrial integrity, was delayed in the presence vs. absence of EC (141 ± 2 vs. 128 ± 2.5 arbitrary mPTP opening time). Isoflurane stimulated an increase in HIF1α in EC but not in CM under normal oxygen tension (3.5 ± 0.1 vs. 0.79 ± 0.15 fold change density) and this action was blocked by pretreatment with the Mitogen-activated Protein/Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase inhibitor U0126. Expression and nuclear translocation of HIF1α were confirmed by Western blot and immunofluorescence. Taken together, these data support the concept that EC are stimulated by isoflurane to produce important cardioprotective factors that may contribute to protection of myocardium during ischemia and reperfusion injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-811
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Endothelial cell
  • HIF1α
  • Mitochondria
  • Nitric oxide
  • Reperfusion injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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