Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate a potential correlation between apoptotic rate (AR), post-infarction left ventricular (LV) remodeling, and clinical characteristics in subjects who died late (>or=10 days) after an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) with evidence of persistent occlusion of the infarct-related artery at autopsy.
Background: Apoptosis contributes to myocardiocyte loss in cardiac disease and may have a pathophysiologic role in post-infarction LV remodeling.
Methods: The AR was calculated at the site of infarction and in remote unaffected LV regions, using co-localization of in situ end labeling for deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation and immunohistochemistry for caspase-3, in 14 subjects who died within two months after AMI. Correlation between AR and clinical characteristics such as age, site of AMI, transmural extension, multivessel coronary disease, and signs and/or symptoms of heart failure (HF), at the time of initial hospitalization for AMI or subsequently before death, was assessed using non-parametric statistical tests. Parameters of LV remodeling including diameters, free wall thickness, diameter-to-wall-thickness ratio, and mass were measured at gross examination at autopsy. Values are expressed as median (interquartile range).
Results: Among clinical variables, early symptomatic post-infarction HF (9 cases, 64%) was associated with nearly fourfold increased AR at the site of infarction (26.2% [24.5% to 28.8%] vs. 6.4% [1.9% to 13.3%], p = 0.001). Moreover, AR both at the site of infarction and in unaffected regions was significantly correlated with parameters of progressive LV remodeling (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Our data show that in patients dying >or=10 days after AMI, myocardial apoptosis is strongly associated with and may be a major determinant of unfavorable LV remodeling and early symptomatic post-infarction HF.