Upregulation of Bcl-2 through caspase-3 inhibition amelioratesischemia/reperfusion injury in rat cardiac allografts

J. Grünenfelder, D. N. Miniati, S. Murata, V. Falk, G. E. Hoyt, M. Kown, M. L. Koransky, R. C. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background - Oxidative stress after ischemia/reperfusion of cardiac allografts leads to cytokine production. Bcl-2, an inhibitor of apoptosis, also has strong antioxidant properties. Caspase-3 is known to cleave bcl-2. This study tests the hypothesis that bcl-2 is downregulated while tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels increase after cardiac transplantation. Furthermore, the use of caspase-3 inhibition was investigated as a strategy for preserving myocardial bcl-2 and mitochondrial cytochrome c after transplantation. Methods and Results - PVG-to-ACI rat heterotopic cardiac transplantations were performed in 4 groups designed with 30 minutes' ischemia and 4 or 8 hours of reperfusion (n=4 per group). Treatment consisted of DEVD-CHO 500 μg IP per animal to donor and recipient 2 hours before transplantation and 250 μg IC into allograft. Controls were treated with saline. Grafts were analyzed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for bcl-2 mRNA, by ELISA for TNF-α, for myeloperoxidase activity, and by Western blot for cytochrome c. In untreated groups, bcl-2 mRNA decreased significantly over time, whereas TNF-α increased significantly at 4 hours (P=0.003) and returned to baseline after 8 hours' reperfusion (P=NS compared with normal hearts). Treatment with caspase-3 inhibitor showed significant upregulation of bcl-2 mRNA expression after 4 and 8 hours of reperfusion (P<0.001 versus control), with a concomitant decrease in TNF-α to baseline levels. Myeloperoxidase activity in all groups was no different from that of normal hearts. Mitochondrial cytochrome c release increased in both control and treatment groups. Conclusions-Bcl-2 is actively downregulated and TNF-α is upregulated in this model of cardiac allograft ischemia/ reperfusion. Furthermore, the caspase-3 pathway is linked to this process, and blockade of caspase-3 can ameliorate reperfusion injury by upregulating bcl-2 and inhibiting TNF-α without affecting cytochrome c release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i202-i206
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Sep 18 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Inhibitors
  • Ischemia
  • Reperfusion
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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