Cardiac tissues contain cells susceptible to and cells resistant to apoptosis, and this difference is important for normal morphogenesis during development and for abnormal loss of cells during pathogenesis such as myocardial infarction and heart failure. While efforts have been made to understand the cellular and intercellular events of apoptotic cells, the signaling mechanisms in cells surviving from apoptotic injuries have been overlooked. Understanding signal transduction processes in cells with apoptosis resistance is of crucial importance to develop better strategies of preserving post-mitotic cells. To this end, we performed studies in neonatal rat ventricular myocytes using oxidative stress (H(2)O(2)) as an apoptotic inducer. We identified a population of cells bearing higher resistance to apoptosis and found that the cells that survived from apoptotic insults had markedly higher levels of AKT and STAT3. Inhibition of AKT activity by a dominant negative AKT construct or by a PI3K inhibitor reduced active NF-kappaB and STAT3 expression without significantly altering the activity of the latter. Activation of AKT by a constitutively activated AKT construct caused the opposite effects. Direct activation of NF-kappaB also enhanced STAT3 expression, an effect abrogated by NF-kappaB inhibitor. On the other hand, knockdown of STAT3 by siRNA or inhibition of STAT3 activity by decoy oligodeoxynucleotides or by JAK2 inhibitor diminished AKT expression. In conclusion, cardiomyocytes possess an apoptosis-resistant property as a cytoprotection mechanism which is likely conferred by mutual transactivation between AKT/NF-kappaB and JAK2/STAT3, a novel crosstalk between the two signaling pathways within the networking governing the cell fate.
(c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel