Interplay between Ca2+ cycling and mitochondrial permeability transition pores promotes reperfusion-induced injury of cardiac myocytes

Document Type



Faculty of Health Sciences, East Africa


Uncontrolled release of Ca2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) contributes to the reperfusion-induced cardiomyocyte injury, e.g. hypercontracture and necrosis. To find out the underlying cellular mechanisms of this phenomenon, we investigated whether the opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pores (MPTP), resulting in ATP depletion and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, may be involved. For this purpose, isolated cardiac myocytes from adult rats were subjected to simulated ischemia and reperfusion. MPTP opening was detected by calcein release and by monitoring the ΔΨm. Fura-2 was used to monitor cytosolic [Ca2+]i or mitochondrial calcium [Ca2+]m, after quenching the cytosolic compartment with MnCl2. Mitochondrial ROS [ROS]m production was detected with MitoSOX Red and mag-fura-2 was used to monitor Mg2+ concentration, which reflects changes in cellular ATP. Necrosis was determined by propidium iodide staining. Reperfusion led to a calcein release from mitochondria, ΔΨm collapse and disturbance of ATP recovery. Simultaneously, Ca2+ oscillations occurred, [Ca2+]m and [ROS]m increased, cells developed hypercontracture and underwent necrosis. Inhibition of the SR-driven Ca2+ cycling with thapsigargine or ryanodine prevented mitochondrial dysfunction, ROS formation and MPTP opening. Suppression of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake (Ru360) or MPTP (cyclosporine A) significantly attenuated Ca2+ cycling, hypercontracture and necrosis. ROS scavengers (2-mercaptopropionyl glycine or N-acetylcysteine) had no effect on these parameters, but reduced [ROS]m. In conclusion, MPTP opening occurs early during reperfusion and is due to the Ca2+ oscillations originating primarily from the SR and supported by MPTP. The interplay between Ca2+ cycling and MPTP promotes the reperfusion-induced cardiomyocyte hypercontracture and necrosis. Mitochondrial ROS formation is a result rather than a cause of MPTP opening.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine