Background In the early postoperative period, the neonatal myocardium undergoes sparse apoptotic cell loss (∼ 1% of myocytes). Because apoptosis is preceded by events associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, the fraction of myocytes with preapoptotic mitochondrial changes has important clinical implications (eg, postoperative myocardial dysfunction). My colleagues and I therefore hypothesized that postoperative apoptotic myocytes represent a tip of the iceberg, with more myocytes upstream with apoptosis-related mitochondrial dysfunction (ARMD). Methods Neonatal lambs underwent cardiopulmonary bypass, 60 minutes of cardioplegic arrest, and 6 hours of recovery (cardiopulmonary bypass with cardioplegic arrest [CPB+CP]; n = 5) and were compared with nonbypass controls (non-CPB; n = 5). Myocardium (left ventricle [LV] and right ventricle [RV]) was examined by using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL) staining, electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, Western blot, and isolated mitochondrial oxygen consumption measurement. Results TUNEL-positive nuclei and electron microscopy-confirmed mitochondrial structural changes were more common in CPB+CP than non-CPB myocardium and were more common in the LV than RV (p = 0.0016). Bax (a proapoptotic mediator) translocated from the cytosol to the mitochondria (LV > RV; p < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated diffuse mitochondrial loss of cytochrome c that was consistent with outer mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (LV > RV > non-CPB). Permeabilization was further demonstrated by augmentation of oxygen consumption in isolated mitochondria after administration of exogenous cytochrome c. The mitochondrial oxygen consumption boost was 57% for CPB+CP:LV; 23% for CPB+CP:RV; and 18% and 17% for non-CPB:LV and non-CPB:RV, respectively (p < 0.01, CPB+CP:LV vs other groups). Conclusions ARMD is much greater than the prevalence of TUNEL-positive myocytes in postoperative neonatal myocardium. Greater LV vulnerability may represent a relationship between increased afterload and ARMD. These changes are consistent with the early postoperative myocardial dysfunction commonly reported after neonatal cardiac operations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine