Journal of Physiology

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The contribution of cardiac myosin binding protein-c Ser282 phosphorylation to the rate of force generation and in vivo cardiac contractility

01 September 2014

Cardiac myosin binding protein-C phosphorylation plays an important role in modulating cardiac muscle function and accelerating contraction. It has been proposed that Ser282 phosphorylation may serve as a critical molecular switch that regulates the phosphorylation of neighbouring Ser273 and Ser302 residues, and thereby govern myofilament contractile acceleration in response to protein kinase A (PKA). Therefore, to determine the regulatory roles of Ser282 we generated a transgenic (TG) mouse model expressing cardiac myosin binding protein-C with a non-phosphorylatable Ser282 (i.e. serine to alanine substitution, TGS282A). Myofibrils isolated from TGS282A hearts displayed robust PKA-mediated phosphorylation of Ser273 and Ser302, and the increase in phosphorylation was identical to TG wild-type (TGWT) controls. No signs of pathological cardiac hypertrophy were detected in TGS282A hearts by either histological examination of cardiac sections or echocardiography. Baseline fractional shortening, ejection fraction, isovolumic relaxation time, rate of pressure development and rate of relaxation () were unaltered in TGS282A mice. However, the increase in cardiac contractility as well as the acceleration of pressure development observed in response to β-adrenergic stimulation was attenuated in TGS282A mice. In agreement with our in vivo data, in vitro force measurements revealed that PKA-mediated acceleration of cross-bridge kinetics in TGS282A myocardium was significantly attenuated compared to TGWT myocardium. Taken together, our data suggest that while Ser282 phosphorylation does not regulate the phosphorylation of neighbouring Ser residues and basal cardiac function, full acceleration of cross-bridge kinetics and left ventricular pressure development cannot be achieved in its absence.

Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production and respiratory complex activity in rats with pressure overload-induced heart failure

01 September 2014

We investigated the impact of cardiac reactive oxygen species (ROS) during the development of pressure overload-induced heart failure. We used our previously described rat model where transverse aortic constriction (TAC) induces compensated hypertrophy after 2 weeks, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction at 6 and 10 weeks, and heart failure with systolic dysfunction after 20 weeks. We measured mitochondrial ROS production rates, ROS damage and assessed the therapeutic potential of in vivo antioxidant therapies. In compensated hypertrophy (2 weeks of TAC) ROS production rates were normal at both mitochondrial ROS production sites (complexes I and III). Complex I ROS production rates increased with the appearance of diastolic dysfunction (6 weeks of TAC) and remained high thereafter. Surprisingly, maximal ROS production at complex III peaked at 6 weeks of pressure overload. Mitochondrial respiratory capacity (state 3 respiration) was elevated 2 and 6 weeks after TAC, decreased after this point and was significantly impaired at 20 weeks, when contractile function was also impaired and ROS damage was found with increased hydroxynonenal. Treatment with the ROS scavenger α-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone or the uncoupling agent dinitrophenol significantly reduced ROS production rates at 6 weeks. Despite the decline in ROS production capacity, no differences in contractile function between treated and untreated animals were observed. Increased ROS production occurs early in the development of heart failure with a peak at the onset of diastolic dysfunction. However, ROS production may not be related to the onset of contractile dysfunction.

Blood pressure is maintained during dehydration by hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus-driven tonic sympathetic nerve activity

01 September 2014

Resting sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) consists primarily of respiratory and cardiac rhythmic bursts of action potentials. During homeostatic challenges such as dehydration, the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is activated and drives SNA in support of arterial pressure (AP). Given that PVN neurones project to brainstem cardio-respiratory regions that generate bursting patterns of SNA, we sought to determine the contribution of PVN to support of rhythmic bursting of SNA during dehydration and to elucidate which bursts dominantly contribute to maintenance of AP. Euhydrated (EH) and dehydrated (DH) (48 h water deprived) rats were anaesthetized, bilaterally vagotomized and underwent acute PVN inhibition by bilateral injection of the GABA-A receptor agonist muscimol (0.1 nmol in 50 nl). Consistent with previous studies, muscimol had no effect in EH rats (n = 6), but reduced mean AP (MAP; P < 0.001) and integrated splanchnic SNA (sSNA; P < 0.001) in DH rats (n = 6). Arterial pulse pressure was unaffected in both groups. Muscimol reduced burst frequency of phrenic nerve activity (P < 0.05) equally in both groups without affecting the burst amplitude–duration integral (i.e. area under the curve). PVN inhibition did not affect the amplitude of the inspiratory peak, expiratory trough or expiratory peak of sSNA in either group, but reduced cardiac rhythmic sSNA in DH rats only (P < 0.001). The latter was largely reversed by inflating an aortic cuff to restore MAP (n = 5), suggesting that the muscimol-induced reduction of cardiac rhythmic sSNA in DH rats was an indirect effect of reducing MAP and thus arterial baroreceptor input. We conclude that MAP is largely maintained in anaesthetized DH rats by a PVN-driven component of sSNA that is neither respiratory nor cardiac rhythmic.

Genesis of the characteristic pulmonary venous pressure waveform as described by the reservoir-wave model

01 September 2014
Key points

  • In pressure flow data from a pulmonary vein, we use the reservoir wave model to separate the effects of an elastic venous reservoir from the effects of waves created by the heart.

  • Wave intensity analysis was used to separate the effects of waves generated upstream by the right ventricle from the effects of waves generated downstream by the left atrium and left ventricle.

  • Most waves are created by the left atrium and left ventricle and can be linked to events that occur during the cardiac cycle.

  • Waves transmitted through the pulmonary circulation are attenuated less when blood volume is increased but are attenuated more and delayed when the lungs are expanded.

  • The drainage of pulmonary arterial and venous reservoirs are responsible for substantial changes in measured pulmonary venous pressure and flow but waves are associated with the conventional landmarks of these characteristic waveforms.

  • Abstract

    Conventional haemodynamic analysis of pulmonary venous and left atrial (LA) pressure waveforms yields substantial forward and backward waves throughout the cardiac cycle; the reservoir wave model provides an alternative analysis with minimal waves during diastole. Pressure and flow in a single pulmonary vein (PV) and the main pulmonary artery (PA) were measured in anaesthetized dogs and the effects of hypoxia and nitric oxide, volume loading, and positive-end expiratory pressure (PEEP) were observed. The reservoir wave model was used to determine the reservoir contribution to PV pressure and flow. Subtracting reservoir pressure and flow resulted in ‘excess’ quantities which were treated as wave-related. Wave intensity analysis of excess pressure and flow quantified the contributions of waves originating upstream (from the PA) and downstream (from the LA and/or left ventricle (LV)). Major features of the characteristic PV waveform are caused by sequential LA and LV contraction and relaxation creating backward compression (i.e. pressure-increasing) waves followed by decompression (i.e. pressure-decreasing) waves. Mitral valve opening is linked to a backwards decompression wave (i.e. diastolic suction). During late systole and early diastole, forward waves originating in the PA are significant. These waves were attenuated less with volume loading and delayed with PEEP. The reservoir wave model shows that the forward and backward waves are negligible during LV diastasis and that the changes in pressure and flow can be accounted for by the discharge of upstream reservoirs. In sharp contrast, conventional analysis posits forward and backward waves such that much of the energy of the forward wave is opposed by the backward wave.

    Spatial organization and coordination of slow waves in the mouse anorectum

    01 September 2014

    The internal anal sphincter (IAS) develops tone and is important for maintaining a high anal pressure while tone in the rectum is less. The mechanisms responsible for tone generation in the IAS are still uncertain. The present study addressed this question by comparing the electrical properties and morphology of the mouse IAS and distal rectum. The amplitude of tone and the frequency of phasic contractions was greater in the IAS than in rectum while membrane potential (Em) was less negative in the IAS than in rectum. Slow waves (SWs) were of greatest amplitude and frequency at the distal end of the IAS, declining in the oral direction. Dual microelectrode recordings revealed that SWs were coordinated over a much greater distance in the circumferential direction than in the oral direction. The circular muscle layer of the IAS was divided into five to eight ‘minibundles’ separated by connective tissue septa whereas few septa were present in the rectum. The limited coordination of SWs in the oral direction suggests that the activity in adjacent minibundles is not coordinated. Intramuscular interstitial cells of Cajal and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha-positive cells were present in each minibundle suggesting a role for one or both of these cells in SW generation. In summary, three important properties distinguish the IAS from the distal rectum: (1) a more depolarized Em; (2) larger and higher frequency SWs; and (3) the multiunit configuration of the muscle. All of these characteristics may contribute to greater tone generation in the IAS than in the distal rectum.

    Airway turbulence and changes in upper airway hydraulic diameter can be estimated from the intensity of high frequency inspiratory sounds in sleeping adults

    01 September 2014

    Obstructive sleep disordered breathing can cause death and significant morbidity in adults and children. We previously found that children with smaller upper airways (measured by magnetic resonance imaging while awake) generated loud high frequency inspiratory sounds (HFIS, defined as inspiratory sounds > 2 kHz) while they slept. The purpose of this study was (1) to determine what characteristics of airflow predicted HFIS intensity, and (b) to determine if we could calculate changes in hydraulic diameter (D) in both an in vitro model and in the upper airways of sleeping humans. In an in vitro model, high frequency sound intensity was an estimate of airflow turbulence as reflected by the Reynold's number (Re). D of the in vitro model was calculated using Re, the pressure gradient, Swamee–Jain formula and Darcy formula. D was proportional to but smaller than the actual diameters (r2 = 0.94). In humans, we measured HFIS intensity and the pressure gradient across the upper airway (estimated with oesophageal pressure, Pes) during polysomnography in four adult volunteers and applied the same formulae to calculate D. At apnoea termination when the airway opens, we observed (1) an increase in HFIS intensity suggesting an increase in turbulence (higher Re), and (2) a larger calculated D. This method allows dynamic estimation of changes in relative upper airway hydraulic diameter (D) in sleeping humans with narrowed upper airways.

    Regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-{alpha} isoforms and redox state by carotid body neural activity in rats

    01 September 2014

    Previous studies reported that chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) results in an imbalanced expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-α (HIF-α) isoforms and oxidative stress in rodents, which may be due either to the direct effect of CIH or indirectly via hitherto uncharacterized mechanism(s). As neural activity is a potent regulator of gene transcription, we hypothesized that carotid body (CB) neural activity contributes to CIH-induced HIF-α isoform expression and oxidative stress in the chemoreflex pathway. Experiments were performed on adult rats exposed to CIH for 10 days. Rats exposed to CIH exhibited: increased HIF-1α and decreased HIF-2α expression; increased NADPH oxidase 2 and decreased superoxide dismutase 2 expression; and oxidative stress in the nucleus tractus solitarius and rostral ventrolateral medulla as well as in the adrenal medulla (AM), a major end organ of the sympathetic nervous system. Selective ablation of the CB abolished these effects. In the AM, sympathetic activation by the CB chemoreflex mediates CIH-induced HIF-α isoform imbalance via muscarinic acetylcholine receptor-mediated Ca2+ influx, and the resultant activation of mammalian target of rapamycin pathway and calpain proteases. Rats exposed to CIH presented with hypertension, elevated sympathetic activity and increased circulating catecholamines. Selective ablation of either the CB (afferent pathway) or sympathetic innervation to the AM (efferent pathway) abolished these effects. These observations uncover CB neural activity-dependent regulation of HIF-α isoforms and the redox state by CIH in the central and peripheral nervous systems associated with the chemoreflex.

    Time course analysis of mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragm contractile muscle dysfunction in the rat

    01 September 2014

    Controlled mechanical ventilation (CMV) plays a key role in triggering the impaired diaphragm muscle function and the concomitant delayed weaning from the respirator in critically ill intensive care unit (ICU) patients. To date, experimental and clinical studies have primarily focused on early effects on the diaphragm by CMV, or at specific time points. To improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the impaired diaphragm muscle function in response to mechanical ventilation, we have performed time-resolved analyses between 6 h and 14 days using an experimental rat ICU model allowing detailed studies of the diaphragm in response to long-term CMV. A rapid and early decline in maximum muscle fibre force and preceding muscle fibre atrophy was observed in the diaphragm in response to CMV, resulting in an 85% reduction in residual diaphragm fibre function after 9–14 days of CMV. A modest loss of contractile proteins was observed and linked to an early activation of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway, myosin:actin ratios were not affected and the transcriptional regulation of myosin isoforms did not show any dramatic changes during the observation period. Furthermore, small angle X-ray diffraction analyses demonstrate that myosin can bind to actin in an ATP-dependent manner even after 9–14 days of exposure to CMV. Thus, quantitative changes in muscle fibre size and contractile proteins are not the dominating factors underlying the dramatic decline in diaphragm muscle function in response to CMV, in contrast to earlier observations in limb muscles. The observed early loss of subsarcolemmal neuronal nitric oxide synthase activity, onset of oxidative stress, intracellular lipid accumulation and post-translational protein modifications strongly argue for significant qualitative changes in contractile proteins causing the severely impaired residual function in diaphragm fibres after long-term mechanical ventilation. For the first time, the present study demonstrates novel changes in the diaphragm structure/function and underlying mechanisms at the gene, protein and cellular levels in response to CMV at a high temporal resolution ranging from 6 h to 14 days.

    The contributions of filaments and cross-bridges to sarcomere compliance in skeletal muscle

    01 September 2014

    Force generation in the muscle sarcomere is driven by the head domain of the myosin molecule extending from the thick filament to form cross-bridges with the actin-containing thin filament. Following attachment, a structural working stroke in the head pulls the thin filament towards the centre of the sarcomere, producing, under unloaded conditions, a filament sliding of ~11 nm. The mechanism of force generation by the myosin head depends on the relationship between cross-bridge force and movement, which is determined by compliances of the cross-bridge (Ccb) and filaments. By measuring the force dependence of the spacing of the high-order myosin- and actin-based X-ray reflections from sartorius muscles of Rana esculenta we find a combined filament compliance (Cf) of 13.1 ± 1.2 nm MPa–1, close to recent estimates from single fibre mechanics (12.8 ± 0.5 nm MPa–1). Ccb calculated using these estimates is 0.37 ± 0.12 nm pN–1, a value fully accounted for by the compliance of the myosin head domain, 0.38 ± 0.06 nm pN–1, obtained from the intensity changes of the 14.5 nm myosin-based X-ray reflection in response to 3 kHz oscillations imposed on single muscle fibres in rigor. Thus, a significant contribution to Ccb from the myosin tail that joins the head to the thick filament is excluded. The low Ccb value indicates that the myosin head generates isometric force by a small sub-step of the 11 nm stroke that drives filament sliding at low load. The implications of these results for the mechanism of force generation by myosins have general relevance for cardiac and non-muscle myosins as well as for skeletal muscle.

    Hypometabolism and hypothermia in the rat model of endotoxic shock: independence of circulatory hypoxia

    01 September 2014

    We tested the hypothesis that development of hypothermia instead of fever in endotoxic shock is consequential to hypoxia. Endotoxic shock was induced by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 500 μg kg–1 i.v.) in rats at an ambient temperature of 22°C. A β3-adrenergic agonist known to activate metabolic heat production, CL316,243, was employed to evaluate whether thermogenic capacity could be impaired by the fall in oxygen delivery (O2) during endotoxic shock. This possibility was rejected as CL316,243 (0.15 mg kg–1 i.v.) evoked similar rises in oxygen consumption (VO2) in the presence and absence of endotoxic shock. Next, to investigate whether a less severe form of circulatory hypoxia could be triggering hypothermia, the circulating volume of LPS-injected rats was expanded using 6% hetastarch with the intention of improving tissue perfusion and alleviating hypoxia. This intervention attenuated not only the fall in arterial pressure induced by LPS, but also the associated falls in VO2 and body temperature. These effects, however, occurred independently of hypoxia, as they were not accompanied by any detectable changes in NAD+/NADH ratios. Further experimentation revealed that even the earliest drops in cardiac output and O2 during endotoxic shock did not precede the reduction in VO2 that brings about hypothermia. In fact, O2 and VO2 fell in such a synchrony that the O2/VO2 ratio remained unaffected. Only when hypothermia was prevented by exposure to a warm environment (30°C) did an imbalance in the O2/VO2 ratio become evident, and such an imbalance was associated with reductions in the renal and hypothalamic NAD+/NADH ratios. In conclusion, hypometabolism and hypothermia in endotoxic shock are not consequential to hypoxia but serve as a pre-emptive strategy to avoid hypoxia in this model.

    Central command dysfunction in rats with heart failure is mediated by brain oxidative stress and normalized by exercise training

    01 September 2014
    Key points

  • In heart failure, sympathoexcitation elicited by central command, a parallel activation of the motor and autonomic neural circuits in the brain, is exaggerated.

  • Mechanisms underlying central command dysfunction in heart failure were unexplored, and effects of exercise training on central command dysfunction in heart failure were not determined.

  • Data presented here suggest that oxidative stress in the medulla in heart failure mediates central command dysfunction, and that exercise training in heart failure is capable of normalizing central command dysfunction through its antioxidant effects in the medulla.

  • The present study contributes to our understanding of brain mechanisms underlying abnormal autonomic adjustments to exercise in heart failure.

  • Abstract

    Sympathoexcitation elicited by central command, a parallel activation of the motor and autonomic neural circuits in the brain, has been shown to become exaggerated in chronic heart failure (CHF). The present study tested the hypotheses that oxidative stress in the medulla in CHF plays a role in exaggerating central command-elicited sympathoexcitation, and that exercise training in CHF suppresses central command-elicited sympathoexcitation through its antioxidant effects in the medulla. In decerebrate rats, central command was activated by electrically stimulating the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR) after neuromuscular blockade. The MLR stimulation at a current intensity greater than locomotion threshold in rats with CHF after myocardial infarction (MI) evoked larger (P < 0.05) increases in renal sympathetic nerve activity and arterial pressure than in sham-operated healthy rats (Sham) and rats with CHF that had completed longterm (8–12 weeks) exercise training (MI + TR). In the Sham and MI + TR rats, bilateral microinjection of a superoxide dismutase (SOD) mimetic Tempol into the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) had no effects on MLR stimulation-elicited responses. By contrast, in MI rats, Tempol treatment significantly reduced MLR stimulation-elicited responses. In a subset of MI rats, treatment with Tiron, another SOD mimetic, within the RVLM also reduced responses. Superoxide generation in the RVLM, as evaluated by dihydroethidium staining, was enhanced in MI rats compared with that in Sham and MI + TR rats. Collectively, these results support the study hypotheses. We suggest that oxidative stress in the medulla in CHF mediates central command dysfunction, and that exercise training in CHF is capable of normalizing central command dysfunction through its antioxidant effects in the medulla.