The injury caused by myocardial reperfusion after ischemia can be contained by interventions aimed at reducing the inflammation and the oxidative stress that underlie exacerbation of tissue damage. Sphingolipids are a class of structural and signaling lipid molecules; among them, the inflammation mediator ceramide accumulates in the myocardium upon ischemia/reperfusion. Here, we show that, after transient coronary occlusion in mice, an increased de novo ceramide synthesis takes place at reperfusion in the ischemic area surrounding necrosis (area at risk). This correlates with the enhanced expression of the first and rate-limiting enzyme of the de novo pathway, serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT). The intraventricular administration at reperfusion of myriocin, an inhibitor of SPT, significantly protected the area at risk from damage, reducing the infarcted area by 40.9 % relative to controls not treated with the drug. In the area at risk, myriocin downregulated ceramide, reduced the content in other mediators of inflammation and reactive oxygen species, and activated the Nrf2-HO1 cytoprotective response. We conclude that an enhanced ceramide synthesis takes part in ischemia/reperfusion injury and that myriocin treatment can be proposed as a strategy for myocardial pharmacological postconditioning.
Keywords: Ceramide; Infarct; Inflammation; Myocardium; Oxidative stress; Postconditioning; Reperfusion.