Inflammasome Activation of Cardiac Fibroblasts Is Essential for Myocardial Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury
Background—Inflammation plays a key role in the pathophysiology of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury; however, the mechanism by which myocardial I/R induces inflammation remains unclear. Recent evidence indicates that a sterile inflammatory response triggered by tissue damage is mediated through a multiple-protein complex called the inflammasome. Therefore, we hypothesized that the inflammasome is an initial sensor for danger signal(s) in myocardial I/R injury.
Methods and Results—We demonstrate that inflammasome activation in cardiac fibroblasts, but not in cardiomyocytes, is crucially involved in the initial inflammatory response after myocardial I/R injury. We found that inflammasomes are formed by I/R and that its subsequent activation of inflammasomes leads to interleukin-1β production, resulting in inflammatory responses such as inflammatory cell infiltration and cytokine expression in the heart. In mice deficient for apoptosis-associated speck-like adaptor protein and caspase-1, these inflammatory responses and subsequent injuries, including infarct development and myocardial fibrosis and dysfunction, were markedly diminished. Bone marrow transplantation experiments with apoptosis-associated speck-like adaptor protein–deficient mice revealed that inflammasome activation in bone marrow cells and myocardial resident cells such as cardiomyocytes or cardiac fibroblasts plays an important role in myocardial I/R injury. In vitro experiments revealed that hypoxia/reoxygenation stimulated inflammasome activation in cardiac fibroblasts, but not in cardiomyocytes, and that hypoxia/reoxygenation–induced activation was mediated through reactive oxygen species production and potassium efflux.
Conclusions—Our results demonstrate the molecular basis for the initial inflammatory response after I/R and suggest that the inflammasome is a potential novel therapeutic target for preventing myocardial I/R injury.
- Received April 19, 2010.
- Accepted December 3, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.