Objective: Sepsis-induced cardiac dysfunction is a serious clinical syndrome characterized by hypotension, decreased systemic vascular resistance, and elevated cardiac index. Although cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha have been shown to play a significant role early in this response, the downstream effects of TNF-alpha signaling on cardiac function, specifically its relationship to apoptosis, have not been fully elucidated.
Design: Previous studies from our laboratory have identified endotoxin-induced apoptosis in cardiac cells in vitro. To further determine the role of lipopolysaccharide-induced apoptosis in vivo, mice were injected intraperitoneally with lipopolysaccharide (4 mg/kg), and cardiac apoptosis was detected and inhibited using a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor.
Setting: University research laboratory.
Subjects: Adult male wild-type (B6:129PF1/J) and TNF receptor 1/receptor 2 (TNFR-1/2) knockout mice (B6;129S-Tnfrsf1aTnfrsf1b).
Interventions: We sought to determine the dependence of cardiac apoptosis on TNF-alpha signaling and determine the physiologic role of caspase activation on lipopolysaccharide-induced cardiac dysfunction.
Measurements and main results: Cardiac apoptosis was determined at baseline and at 2, 4, 8, and 24 hrs by detection of capase-3 and -8 activity, cytoplasmic levels of Bax/Bcl-2, cleaved caspase-3 immunohistochemistry, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase UTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) staining of histologic sections in wild-type and TNFR-1/2 knockout mice. To determine the role of caspase activation in lipopolysaccharide-induced cardiac dysfunction, a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor Z-Val-Ala-Asp (ome)-FMK (sad) was given, and cardiac function was determined in isolated beating hearts (Langendorff preparation). Our experiments determined that caspase-3-dependent apoptosis was active in cardiac tissue by 2 hrs and that this activation was completely mediated by TNFR-1/2. The Bax/Bcl-2 ratios supported the finding and time course of apoptosis, whereas TUNEL staining of cardiac tissue sections identified sporadic apoptotic ventricular cells. The administration of zVAD significantly inhibited myocardial caspase-3 activity and preserved cardiac physiologic function (Langendorff preparation).
Conclusions: Endotoxin induces a TNF-alpha-dependent apoptotic cascade in the myocardium, which contributes to the development of cardiac dysfunction.