To test the hypothesis that cellular proteinases contribute to ischemic myocellular death, measurements were made of tyrosine release (an index of overall proteolysis) from incubated slices of nonischemic and ischemic myocardium obtained at various times after coronary artery occlusion in rats. Proteolysis failed to increase in ischemic myocardium throughout the first 24 hours of occlusion, when irreversible damage develops, indicating that cellular proteinases do not undergo generalized activation in this phase. These data represent the first assessment of myocardial proteolysis throughout the development of ischemic death, and suggest that cellular proteinases do not play a causal role in this process. However, the possibility remains that ischemia selectively accelerates the breakdown of vital proteins, a phenomenon that may not be detected by measuring overall proteolysis. To determine whether future studies on the effects of proteolytic inhibition on infarct size are feasible, the ability of the proteinase inhibitors antipain, leupeptin, pepstatin and chymostatin, given in vivo, to interfere with proteolysis in ischemic myocardium was also evaluated. Leupeptin (10 or 40 mg/kg) inhibited proteolysis in a dose-related fashion (-49 and -72%, respectively, p < 0.001). Antipain (20 mg/kg) decreased protein breakdown by 60% (p < 0.001). The combination of antipain (20 mg/kg), leupeptin (40 mg/kg) and pepstatin (5 mg/kg) suppressed proteolysis almost completely at both 15 minutes (-88%, p < 0.001) and at 6 hours (- 72 %, p < 0.05) of ischemia, that is, throughout the development of irreversible injury. These results demonstrate that whatever proteolysis is occurring during acute myocardial infarction is largely mediated by cathepsins A, B, D, L and H and by calciumactivated neutral protease (that is, the enzymes sensitive to the inhibitors used). Because antipain, leupeptin and pepstatin significantly suppress such proteolysis, these agents might be useful in further assessing any potential contribution of cellular proteinases to the production of ischemic myocellular death. In addition, this study provides a new experimental model that affords serial assessments of regional myocardial proteolysis during the evolution of myocardial infarction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine