Hypoxia upregulates PCSK9 expression in the heart, and PCSK9 affects the function of myocytes. This study aimed to investigate the impact of PCSK9 on reperfusion injury in rats and mice fed normal or high-fat diets. Either the genetic knockout of PCSK9 (mice) or the antagonism of circulating PCSK9 via Pep2-8 (mice and rats) was used. Isolated perfused hearts were exposed to 45 min of ischemia followed by 120 min of reperfusion. In vivo, mice were fed normal or high-fat diets (2% cholesterol) for eight weeks prior to coronary artery occlusion (45 min of ischemia) and reperfusion (120 min). Ischemia/reperfusion upregulates PCSK9 expression (rats and mice) and releases it into the perfusate. The inhibition of extracellular PCSK9 does not affect infarct sizes or functional recovery. However, genetic deletion largely reduces infarct size and improves post-ischemic recovery in mice ex vivo but not in vivo. A high-fat diet reduced the survival rate during ischemia and reperfusion, but in a PCSK9-independent manner that was associated with increased plasma matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)9 activity. PCSK9 deletion, but not the inhibition of extracellular PCSK9, reduces infarct sizes in ex vivo hearts, but this effect is overridden in vivo by factors such as MMP9.
Keywords: MMP9; cardioprotection; ischemia/reperfusion.