Rapid electrical stimulation induces early activation of kinase signal transduction pathways and apoptosis in adult rat ventricular myocytes.

Kuramochi Y1, Guo X, Sawyer DB, Lim CC


Chronic tachycardia in patients and rapid pacing in animal models induce myocardial dysfunction and initiate a cascade of compensatory adaptations that are ultimately unsustainable, leading to ventricular enlargement and failure. The molecular pathogenesis during the early stages of tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, however, remains unclear. We utilized our previously reported cell culture pacing system to directly assess phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling of adult rat ventricular myocytes (ARVM) in response to rapid electrical stimulation. Freshly isolated ARVMs were maintained quiescent (0 Hz), or continuously stimulated at 5 (normofrequency) and 8 Hz (rapid frequency). Pacing resulted in an increase in mitochondrial respiration, assessed by mitochondrial uptake of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) at 48 h. Rapid pacing at 8 Hz significantly increased cell injury and death as assessed by Trypan Blue uptake, creatine phosphokinase release, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) assay. Pacing at 5 Hz induced early, but weak, activation of Akt and protein kinase 38 (p38). Rapid pacing further augmented the early activation of Akt and p38, and induced extracellular signal-related kinase (Erk) and c-jun amino terminal kinase (JNK) activation. Incubation of ARVM with PI3K inhibitor LY294002 resulted in a twofold increase of TUNEL-positive cells under all pacing conditions examined. In conclusion, rapid pacing has immediate and detrimental consequences for cardiomyocyte survival, with pro-apoptotic pathways (e.g. JNK, p38) able to overwhelm antiapoptotic signalling (PI3K/Akt, Erk). The rapid pacing methodology described in this report will be particularly useful in determination of cell signalling pathways associated with tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy.