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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 May 6;1485(1):45-55.

Palmitate-induced apoptosis in cardiomyocytes is mediated through alterations in mitochondria: prevention by cyclosporin A.

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Department of Medicine (Cardiology), University of British Columbia, D410 2733 Heather St., Vancouver, B.C., Canada.


Palmitate, a C16 fatty acid found in high concentrations in the blood in acute myocardial infarction, induces apoptotic cell death. To more completely define the nature and mechanism underlying palmitate-induced cell death, cardiomyocytes were cultured from embryonic chick heart and were treated with palmitate. Concentration-dependent loss of cell viability was established by loss of the ability of palmitate-treated cells to exclude propidium iodide (PI), metabolize 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and retain fluorescein diacetate (FDA). Dual staining with PI and FDA and subsequent analysis by FACS established that palmitate-induced cell death was predominantly necrosis whereas apoptosis occurred in 13% of all dead cells. The low proportion of palmitate-induced apoptosis was confirmed by evaluation of the DNA content or PI fluorescent staining of the DNA of permeabilized cardiomyocytes. A critical role for mitochondria in the pathogenesis of palmitate-induced cell death was demonstrated, for the first time, based on palmitate-induced reduction of mitochondrial activity as assessed by the mitochondrial-selective dye chloromethyl-X-Rosamine and the presence of a greater amount of the mitochondrial marker cytochrome C in the cytosol of palmitate-treated cardiomyocytes than in control cells. Further, cyclosporin that inhibits the development of mitochondrial transition pores blocked palmitate-induced alteration in mitochondrial function and palmitate-induced cell death. We further demonstrated the selectivity of cyclosporin A for the prevention of apoptotic cell death in the heart as there was no alteration in necrotic cell death produced by palmitate with cyclosporin pretreatment. Our data demonstrate the nature of palmitate-induced cell death in cardiomyocytes (both apoptotic and necrotic), propose a mitochondrial basis for its pathogenesis and show that cyclosporin A prevents palmitate-induced apoptotic cardiomyocyte cell death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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