Accumulation of specific ceramides in ischemic-reperfused rat heart; effect of ischemic preconditioning
Ceramide signalling has been implicated in the mechanism of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury (IR). This study tested the hypothesis that ceramides containing a specific amino-linked acyl residue mediate the injury, and that ischemic preconditioning (IPC) affords myocardial protection because it prevents increased ceramide accumulation in IR myocardium. Perfused rat hearts were subjected either to the sham perfusion or to 30 min global ischemia, 30 min ischemia/30 min reperfusion (IR) or were preconditioned prior to the standard IR. The ventricles were harvested for biochemical assay that involved transmethylation of ceramide amino-linked acyl residues, and gas liquid chromatography measurement of acyl methyl esters. Fourteen ceramides containing myrystic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, linolenic, arachidic, arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, behenic, docosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic or nervonic acid were identified in the myocardium of rats. The total basal ceramide concentration in the myocardium was 135 nmol/g tissue, and it was increased by 14.1% and 48.4% in the ischemia and IR group, respectively. However, in fact, IR increased the accumulation of only 7 out of 14 ceramides identified in the heart (i.e., those containing palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidonic acid), and the relative magnitude of these increases varied between the particular ceramides and was independent from their basal tissue concentration. IPC improved postischemic hemodynamic recovery and partially prevented the reperfusion-induced increases in these 7 ceramides, while the other ceramides were unaffected by IPC. These results support the role of the specific ceramide signalling in the mechanism of myocardial IR injury. We speculate that by preventing tissue accumulation of certain ceramides, IPC attenuates this signalling, that adds to the mechanism of myocardial protection afforded by IPC.