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Cell Death Dis. 2012 Jul 5;3:e345. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2012.84.

Mitochondrial ROS production and subsequent ERK phosphorylation are necessary for temperature preconditioning of isolated ventricular myocytes.

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Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.


Hypothermia and hypothermic preconditioning are known to be profoundly cardioprotective, but the molecular mechanisms of this protection have not been fully explained. In this study, temperature preconditioning (16 °C) was found to be cardioprotective in isolated adult rat ventricular myocytes, enhancing contractile recovery and preventing calcium dysregulation after oxidative stress. Hypothermic preconditioning preserved mitochondrial function by delaying the pathological opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), whereas transient mPTP flickering remained unaltered. For the first time, reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the mitochondria are shown to be released exclusively during the hypothermic episodes of the temperature-preconditioning protocol. Using a mitochondrially targeted ROS biosensor, ROS release was shown during the brief bursts to 16 °C of temperature preconditioning. The ROS scavenger N-(2-mercaptopropionyl) glycine attenuated ROS accumulation during temperature preconditioning, abolishing the protective delay in mPTP opening. Temperature preconditioning induces ROS-dependant phosphorylation of the prosurvival kinase extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2. ERK1/2 activation was shown to be downstream of ROS release, as the presence of a ROS scavenger during temperature preconditioning completely blocked ERK1/2 activation. The cardioprotective effects of temperature preconditioning on mPTP opening were completely lost by inhibiting ERK1/2 activation. Thus, mitochondrial ROS release and ERK1/2 activation are both necessary to signal the cardioprotective effects of temperature preconditioning in cardiac myocytes.

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