Carbon monoxide pollution aggravates ischemic heart failure through oxidative stress pathway

Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 3;7:39715. doi: 10.1038/srep39715.


Risk of hospital readmission and cardiac mortality increases with atmospheric pollution for patients with heart failure. The underlying mechanisms are unclear. Carbon monoxide (CO) a ubiquitous environmental pollutant could be involved. We explored the effect of daily exposure of CO relevant to urban pollution on post-myocardial infarcted animals. Rats with ischemic heart failure were exposed 4 weeks to daily peaks of CO mimicking urban exposure or to standard filtered air. CO exposure worsened cardiac contractile dysfunction evaluated by echocardiography and at the cardiomyocyte level. In line with clinical reports, the animals exposed to CO also exhibited a severe arrhythmogenic phenotype with numerous sustained ventricular tachycardias as monitored by surface telemetric electrocardiograms. CO did not affect cardiac β-adrenergic responsiveness. Instead, mitochondrial dysfunction was exacerbated leading to additional oxidative stress and Ca2+ cycling alterations. This was reversed following acute antioxidant treatment of cardiomyocytes with N-acetylcysteine confirming involvement of CO-induced oxidative stress. Exposure to daily peaks of CO pollution aggravated cardiac dysfunction in rats with ischemic heart failure by specifically targeting mitochondria and generating ROS-dependent alterations. This pathway may contribute to the high sensibility and vulnerability of individuals with cardiac disease to environmental outdoor air quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Carbon Monoxide / adverse effects
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism*
  • Coronary Vessels / surgery*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrocardiography
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Air Pollutants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Calcium