Apoptotic cell death of cardiomyocytes is involved in several cardiovascular diseases including ischemia, hypertrophy, and heart failure. The polyamines putrescine, spermidine, and spermine are polycations absolutely required for cell growth and division. However, increasing evidence indicates that polyamines, cell growth, and cell death can be tightly connected. In this paper, we have studied the involvement of polyamines in apoptosis of H9c2 cardiomyoblasts in a model of simulated ischemia. H9c2 cells were exposed to a condition of simulated ischemia, consisting of hypoxia plus serum deprivation, that induces apoptosis. The activity of ornithine decarboxylase, the rate limiting enzyme of polyamine biosynthesis that synthesizes putrescine, is rapidly and transiently induced in ischemic cells, reaching a maximum after 3 h, and leading to increased polyamine levels. Pharmacological inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase by α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) depletes H9c2 cardiomyoblasts of polyamines and protects the cells against ischemia-induced apoptosis. DFMO inhibits several of the molecular events of apoptosis that follow simulated ischemia, such as the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, caspase activation, downregulation of Bcl-xL, and DNA fragmentation. The protective effect of DFMO is lost when exogenous putrescine is provided to the cells, indicating a specific role of polyamine synthesis in the development of apoptosis in this model of simulated ischemia. In cardiomyocytes obtained from transgenic mice overexpressing ornithine decarboxylase in the heart, caspase activation is dramatically increased following induction of apoptosis, with respect to cardiomyocytes from control mice, confirming a proapoptotic effect of polyamines. It is presented for the first time evidence of the involvement of polyamines in apoptosis of ischemic cardiac cells and the beneficial effect of DFMO treatment. In conclusion, this finding may suggest novel pharmacological approaches for the protection of cardiomyocytes injury caused by ischemia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine