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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2008 Sep;194(1):23-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2008.01858.x. Epub 2008 Apr 3.

Nitric oxide depresses connexin 43 after myocardial infarction in mice.

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Department of Physiology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.



Heart failure (HF) is a major cause of death and morbidity. Connexin 43 (Cx43) content is reduced in the failing myocardium, but regulating factors have not been identified. In HF, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)-induced high levels of nitric oxide (NO) cause apoptosis and cardiac dysfunction. However, a direct iNOS-Cx43 link has not been demonstrated. We investigated this relationship in mice after myocardial infarction.


Effects of myocardial infarction were evaluated 2 weeks after coronary artery ligation in wild-type C57BL/6 (WT) and iNOS(-/-) knockout mice. Myocardial Cx43 and Cx45 content were assessed by immunofluorescence confocal imaging and western blotting. Cardiac function was evaluated in anaesthetized mice using a micro pressure-tipped catheter inserted into the left ventricle.


Despite similar infarct size, deficiency in iNOS resulted in significantly lower plasma nitrate/nitrite levels, better haemodynamic performance and lower mortality 2 weeks after coronary ligation. Myocardial Cx43, but not Cx45, content was lower in WT mice following ligation. The reduction in Cx43 was less in iNOS(-/-) compared with WT mice. To assess the direct effect of NO on Cx43 expression, cultured neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes were employed. Incubation with the NO donor, S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine, elicited a dose-dependent decrease in Cx43 content in cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes.


Increased NO production from iNOS depressed cardiac performance and contributed to the decreased myocardial Cx43 content 2 weeks after myocardial infarction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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