Thrombospondin-1 mediates Drp-1 signaling following ischemia reperfusion in the aging heart

FASEB Bioadv. 2020 Mar 20;2(5):304-314. doi: 10.1096/fba.2019-00090. eCollection 2020 May.


Background: Ischemia reperfusion (IR) injury leads to activation of dynamin-related protein (Drp-1), causing mitochondrial fission and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), but the molecular mechanisms that activate Drp-1 are not known. The purpose of this study was to establish a link between Thbs-1 and fission protein (Drp-1) through Pgc-1α following IR in advancing age.

Methods: Female Fischer-344 rats were divided into four groups: Young Control, Young + IR, Old Control, and Old + IR. Heart function and coronary flow were evaluated at baseline and 72 hours after IR, hearts were explanted and mitochondrial ROS generation was measured using MitoPY1, as well as protein levels of Thbs-1, Pgc-1α, and Drp-1. In vitro, rat aortic endothelial cells (RAEC) were treated with siRNA or plasmid for Pgc-1α to evaluate Pgc-1α effect on Drp-1.

Results: Mitochondrial ROS generation in heart tissue increased in both age groups following IR. Old animals exhibited diastolic dysfunction at baseline; after IR they displayed reduced systolic function and exacerbated diastolic dysfunction compared to young controls. IR increased Thbs-1 and Drp-1 expression in young and old hearts compared to control. siRNA to Pgc-1α enhanced levels of Drp-1 in RAECs and increased ROS generation after hypoxia, while Pgc-1α plasmid ameliorates Drp-1 expression in the presence of exogenous Thbs-1.

Conclusion: These results highlight a novel signaling pathway by which Thbs-1 regulates mitochondrial fission protein (Drp-1) and ROS generation during hypoxia, and presumably, following IR. Inhibiting Thbs-1 immediately after IR may prevent Drp-1-mediated mitochondrial fission and is likely to improve the diastolic function of the heart by reducing ROS-mediated cardiomyocyte damage in the aged population.

Keywords: aging; dynamin-related protein-1; ischemia reperfusion; reactive oxygen species; thrombospondin 1.