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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2011;28(1):53-62. doi: 10.1159/000331713. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

Homocysteine induces phosphatidylserine exposure in cardiomyocytes through inhibition of Rho kinase and flippase activity.

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Department of Pathology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Increased levels of homocysteine (Hcy) form an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In a previous study we have shown that Hcy induced phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane in cardiomyocytes, inducing a pro-inflammatory phenotype. In the present study the mechanism(s) involved in Hcy-induced PS exposure were analyzed.


H9c2 rat cardiomyoblasts were subjected to 2.5 mM D,L-Hcy and analyzed for RhoA translocation and activity, Rho Kinase (ROCK) activity and expression and flippase activity. In addition, the effect of ROCK inhibition with Y27632 on Hcy-induced PS exposure and flippase activity was analyzed. Furthermore, GTP and ATP levels were determined.


Incubation of H9c2 cells with 2.5 mM D,L-Hcy did not inhibit RhoA translocation to the plasma membrane. Neither did it inhibit activation of RhoA, even though GTP levels were significantly decreased. Hcy did significantly inhibit ROCK activation, but not its expression, and did inhibit flippase activity, in advance of a significant decrease in ATP levels. ROCK inhibition via Y27632 did not have significant added effects on this.


Hcy induced PS exposure in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane in cardiomyocytes via inhibition of ROCK and flippase activity. As such Hcy may induce cardiomyocytes vulnerable to inflammation in vivo in hyperhomocysteinaemia patients.

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