Macrophages induce cardiomyocyte ferroptosis via mitochondrial transfer

Free Radic Biol Med. 2022 Sep;190:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.07.015. Epub 2022 Aug 3.


Introduction: Mitochondrial transfer is a new cell-to-cell communication manner. Whether the mitochondrial transfer is also involved in the macrophage infiltration-induced cardiac injury is unclear.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine whether macrophage mitochondria can be transferred to cardiomyocytes, and to investigate its possible role and mechanism.

Methods: Mitochondrial transfer between macrophages and cardiomyocytes was detected using immunofluorescence staining and flow cytometry. Cellular metabolites were analyzed using LC-MS technique. Differentially expressed mRNAs were identified using RNA-seq technique.

Results: (1) After cardiomyocytes were cultured with macrophage-conditioned medium (COND + group), macrophage-derived mitochondria have been found in cardiomyocytes, which could be blocked by dynasore (an inhibitor of clathrin-mediated endocytosis). (2) Compared with control (CM) group, there were 545 altered metabolites found in COND + group, most of which were lipids and lipid-like molecules. The altered metabolites were mainly enriched in the β-oxidation of fatty acids and glutathione metabolism. And there were 4824 differentially expressed mRNAs, which were highly enriched in processes like lipid metabolism-associated pathway. (3) Both RNA-seq and qRT-PCR results found that ferroptosis-related mRNAs such as Ptgs2 and Acsl4 increased, and Gpx4 mRNA decreased in COND + group (P < 0.05 vs CM group). (4) The levels of cellular free Fe2+ and mitochondrial lipid peroxidation were increased; while GSH/GSSG ratio, mitochondrial aspect ratio, mitochondrial membrane potential, and ATP production were decreased in cardiomyocytes of COND + group (P < 0.05 vs CM group). All the above phenomena could be blocked by a ferroptosis inhibitor ferrostatin-1 (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Macrophages could transfer mitochondria to cardiomyocytes. Macrophage-derived mitochondria were internalized into cardiomyocytes through clathrin- and/or lipid raft-mediated endocytosis. Uptake of exogenous macrophage mitochondria induced cardiomyocyte injury via triggering ferroptosis.

Keywords: Cardiomyocytes; Ferroptosis; Macrophages; Mitochondrial transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clathrin / metabolism
  • Ferroptosis* / genetics
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Myocytes, Cardiac* / metabolism


  • Clathrin