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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;42(2):713-728. doi: 10.1159/000477889. Epub 2017 Jun 15.

The Impact of Circulating Mitochondrial DNA on Cardiomyocyte Apoptosis and Myocardial Injury After TLR4 Activation in Experimental Autoimmune Myocarditis.



Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), acting as a newly found 'danger-associated molecular patterns' (DAMPs), is released into circulation upon tissue injury and performs as a considerable activator of inflammation and immune response. However, the role of circulating mtDNA in experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) as well as Toll like receptor4 (TLR4) mediated cardiac inflammation and injury remains unknown.


A model of EAM was established in BALB/c mice by immunization with porcine cardiac myosin. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was used to stimulate TLR4 activation in EAM mice and H9C2 cells.


LPS stimulation significantly aggravated cardiac inflammation and tissue injury in EAM, as demonstrated by increased myocardium inflammatory cell infiltration, and up-regulated inflammatory cytokines and troponin I(TnI) level in serum. Circulating mtDNA level was increased in EAM and TLR4 activation led to a greater elevation, which may be related to Reactive oxygen species (ROS) stress involved mtDNA damage characterized by reduced mtDNA copy number in myocardium tissue. In addition, the expression of Toll like receptor9 (TLR9), a ligand of mtDNA, was significantly up-regulated in the myocardium of EAM and EAM LPS group; meanwhile, TLR9 inhibition by ODN 2088 caused an inhibited apoptosis in LPS treated H9C2 cells. Moreover, in EAM and EAM LPS group, simultaneously giving ODN 2088 treatment significantly ameliorated cardiac inflammation and tissue injury compared with untreated group.


Increased circulating mtDNA combined with upregulated TLR9 expression may corporately play a role in EAM as well as TLR4 activation mediated cardiac inflammation and injury.


Circulating mtDNA; EAM; ROS stress; TLR4; TLR9

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