Effects of the Delta Opioid Receptor Agonist DADLE in a Novel Hypoxia-Reoxygenation Model on Human and Rat-Engineered Heart Tissue: A Pilot Study
Intermittent hypoxia and various pharmacological compounds protect the heart from ischemia reperfusion injury in experimental approaches, but the translation into clinical trials has largely failed. One reason may lie in species differences and the lack of suitable human in vitro models to test for ischemia/reperfusion. We aimed to develop a novel hypoxia-reoxygenation model based on three-dimensional, spontaneously beating and work performing engineered heart tissue (EHT) from rat and human cardiomyocytes. Contractile force, the most important cardiac performance parameter, served as an integrated outcome measure. EHTs from neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were subjected to 90 min of hypoxia which led to cardiomyocyte apoptosis as revealed by caspase 3-staining, increased troponin I release (time control vs. 24 h after hypoxia: cTnI 2.7 vs. 6.3 ng/mL, ** p = 0.002) and decreased contractile force (64 ± 6% of baseline) in the long-term follow-up. The detrimental effects were attenuated by preceding the long-term hypoxia with three cycles of 10 min hypoxia (i.e., hypoxic preconditioning). Similarly, [d-Ala2, d-Leu5]-enkephalin (DADLE) reduced the effect of hypoxia on force (recovery to 78 ± 5% of baseline with DADLE preconditioning vs. 57 ± 5% without, p = 0.012), apoptosis and cardiomyocyte stress. Human EHTs presented a comparable hypoxia-induced reduction in force (55 ± 5% of baseline), but DADLE failed to precondition them, likely due to the absence of δ-opioid receptors. In summary, this hypoxia-reoxygenation in vitro model displays cellular damage and the decline of contractile function after hypoxia allows the investigation of preconditioning strategies and will therefore help us to understand the discrepancy between successful conditioning in vitro experiments and its failure in clinical trials.
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