Alterations in myocardial ultrastructure and protein expression after a single injection of isoproterenol

Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Oct;252(1-2):173-81. doi: 10.1023/a:1025579624695.


Immunochemical and electron microscopic characterization of rat myocardium was conducted 2 h and 3 weeks after a single injection of isoproterenol in rats. The relative content of several myospecific proteins (KRP--kinase-related protein, desmin), cytoskeletal proteins (tubulin, vinculin, myosin light chain kinase--MLCK) and extracellular matrix protein fibronectin was determined by immunoblotting. Two hours after injection of 50 mg/kg isoproterenol a destruction of some cardiomyocytes, contracture of myofibrils and mild edema of intercellular space was observed. The content of all the studied proteins except KRP decreased below control levels. This situation sustained 3 weeks after injection and paralleled alterations in cardiomyocyte ultrastructure. Areas of myofibrillar contracture and lysis were noted, glycogen granules were sparse; mitochondria contained arrow-like inclusions that are characteristic for calcium overload, also huge mitochondria contacting each other by specialized intermitochondrial contacts were detected. Clumps of unripe elastic fibers in enlarged intercellular space were combined with increased deposition of collagens type I and III forming areas of fibrosis. The smaller dosage of isoproterenol (10 mg/kg) rendered no significant damage in the acute postinjection period but 3 weeks later it induced the thickening of extracellular matrix around cardiac cells and the increase in KRP and tubulin content by 26 and 32%, correspondingly. MLCK levels remained depressed throughout the experiment. The rise in KRP expression was also observed after the addition of isoproterenol to cultured chicken embryo cardiomyocytes. Obtained results indicate that even a single injection of isoproterenol creates long lasting structural alterations in cardiac muscle accompanied by the increased expression of extracellular matrix proteins and several sarcoplasmic proteins apparently involved in hypertrophic response of cardiomyocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Isoproterenol / administration & dosage
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Isoproterenol