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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1998 Apr;30(4):733-42.

Co-localization of the cysteine protease caspase-3 with apoptotic myocytes after in vivo myocardial ischemia and reperfusion in the rat.

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Department of Pharmacology, Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research, Pointe-Claire-Dorval, Quebec, Canada.


The aim of our study was to characterize the temporal relationship of apoptosis to regional myocardial ischemia and reperfusion and we aimed to determine the effect of ischemia and reperfusion on the distribution of the pro-apoptotic cysteine protease caspase-3 (CPP 32, apopain, Yama) in an in vivo rat model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-400 g) were anesthetized with sodium pentobarbital (65 mg/kg, i.p.), the left external carotid artery was isolated to monitor arterial pressure and a left thoracotomy was performed. Regional myocardial ischemia was induced by occluding the left main coronary artery for 45 min. The heart was reperfused for 0, 60, 120 or 180 min. TUNEL staining of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded left ventricle, and DNA fragmentation analysis, showed that apoptosis occurred during 45 min of ischemia alone, but further developed during the 3-h reperfusion period. Immunohistochemical analysis of ischemic/reperfused left ventricle showed caspase-3 levels were substantially elevated and localized in the ischemic/reperfused region, and that caspase-3 co-localized to TUNEL positive myocytes. Therefore, regional myocardial ischemia serves as a stimulus for myocyte apoptosis, and this form of cell death progresses time-dependently after the onset of reperfusion. Our studies implicate caspase-3 to be involved in apoptotic cell death in ischemic/reperfused rat heart.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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