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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2002 Feb;21(2):244-50.

Up-regulation of Bcl-2 through hyperbaric pressure transfection of TGF-beta1 ameliorates ischemia-reperfusion injury in rat cardiac allografts.

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Falk Cardiovascular Research Building, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.



Oxidative stress after ischemia-reperfusion of cardiac allografts leads to activation of cardiomyocytes and production of cytokines. Bcl-2, an inhibitor of the apoptotic pathway, also has strong antioxidant properties. Ischemia-reperfusion injury after transplantation leads to decreased bcl-2 and increased tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha levels. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 is known to attenuate ischemia-reperfusion injury and inhibits apoptosis of myofibroblasts. We hypothesize that TGF-beta1, prevents bcl-2 cleavage and increased TNF-alpha production.


Rat PVG donor hearts were heterotopically transplanted into ACI recipients. Donor hearts were procured and assigned to groups: (1) intracoronary TGF-beta1 (200 ng/ml) perfusion and pressure at 78 psi for 45 minutes (n = 4); (2) intracoronary TGF-beta1 perfusion and incubation for 45 minutes without pressure (n = 4), (3) saline perfusion and incubation for 45 minutes without pressure (n = 4). Hearts were procured 4 hours after transplantation and analyzed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction for bcl-2 mRNA expression, ELISA for TNF-alpha, and for myeloperoxidase activity (MPO).


Bcl-2 decreased in untreated animals (bcl-2:G3PDH ratio = 0.85 +/- 0.73 vs 1.16 +/- 0.11, not significant [NS]), whereas TNF-alpha increased to 669.99 +/- 127.09 vs 276.84 +/- 73.65 pg/mg total protein in controls (p < 0.003). In TGF-beta(1) pressure-treated hearts, bcl-2 was up-regulated (2.49 +/- 0.6 vs 1.16 +/- 0.11, controls, p < 0.005), whereas TNF-alpha was unchanged (396.1 +/- 100.38 vs 276.84 +/- 73.65 pg/mg, NS). Hearts treated with TGF-beta1 and pressure showed significant up-regulation of bcl-2 compared with hearts treated with TGF-beta1 without pressure (2.49 +/- 0.6 vs 1.17 +/- 0.6, p < 0.02). MPO showed no differences.


Bcl-2 is down-regulated and TNF-alpha up-regulated in this model of ischemia-reperfusion injury. Furthermore, TGF-beta1 is linked to this process and ameliorates reperfusion injury by up-regulating bcl-2 and inhibiting TNF-alpha. Therapeutic overexpression of myocardial TGF-beta1 may be clinically useful to control ischemia-reperfusion injury associated with cardiac transplantation.

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