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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1998 Nov;30(11):2449-59.

Apoptosis of skeletal muscle myofibers and interstitial cells in experimental heart failure.

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Internal Medicine I, Venice City Hospital, Italy.


Congestive heart failure (CHF) is characterized by a limb skeletal muscle myopathy with shift from the slow aerobic, fatigue resistant fibers, to the fast, anaerobic ones, and muscle bulk loss. Apoptosis (A) has been recently demonstrated to play a role in several cardiovascular diseases.


we have investigated the role of A in the skeletal muscle of the hindlimbs in an experimental model of CHF.


CHF was induced in 7 males 80-100 g Sprague-Dawley rats with 30 mg/kg monocrotaline. Five age and diet matched controls were also studied. The time course of A was also studied in additional animals at day 0, 17, 24 and 30 days.


At day 27 the electrophoretic analysis of myosin heavy chains (MHCs) demonstrated in the CHF rats the occurrence of a myopathy, with disappearance of slow MHC1 in the Tibialis Anterior (TA), and a significant shift from the slow to the fast isoforms in the soleus and EDL. With in situ DNA nick-end labelling (TUNEL) we found in the TA of CHF animals a significantly higher number of TUNEL positive nuclei (0.43 +/- 0.24 v 0.08 +/- 0.02, P<0.02 and TUNEL positive myonuclei (0.031 +/- 0.012 v 0.0025 +/- 0.005, P<0.02). The time course of A showed a progressive rise in interstitial and myocyte A, accompanied by a drop in fibers cross-sectional area and muscle weight/body weight, that came out to be significant at 30 days. Western blot showed a lower expression of Bcl-2 at 27 days and a further drop at 30 days in the CHF rats. Double staining for TUNEL and antibody against anti-MHC2a and anti MHC2b + 2x showed that A occurs non-selectively in all the myofiber types. BetaANP and Right Ventricle Mass/Volume (RVM/V) correlated significantly with total apoptotic nuclei.


In CHF myofibers A can lead to muscle atrophy. Endothelial cells A may produce an imbalance in myofibres nutrition with relative ischemia that triggers the preferential synthesis of fast anaerobic myosin as an adaptive mechanism or alternatively induce myofibres death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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