Background Cardiac dysfunction is a frequent and severe complication of septic shock and contributes to the high mortality of sepsis. Although several mechanisms have been suspected to be responsible for sepsis-associated cardiac dysfunction, the precise cause(s) remains unclear to date.
Materials and methods We tested the hypothesis that cardiac fibroblasts may play a critical role as a disease modifier involved in sepsis-associated cardiac dysfunction. Human cardiac fibroblasts (HCFs) cultured in vitro were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Changes in cardiac morphology and function were assessed in mice with cecal ligation and puncture-induced sepsis.
Results In LPS-stimulated HCFs, messenger RNA and protein levels of proinflammatory molecules, including tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, were strikingly upregulated. LPS also increased expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, but not MMP-2. LPS-induced expression of α-smooth muscle actin, a classical marker for myoblast differentiation, which was abrogated when MMP-9 small interfering RNA was transfected into HCFs. High gene expression levels of proinflammatory cytokines and MMP-9 were observed in the heart tissues of cecal ligation and puncture-induced septic mice. Histology sections of the hearts from septic mice showed perivascular and interstitial cardiac fibrosis, and echocardiography demonstrated that septic mice had profound cardiac dysfunction. The broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor ONO-4817 significantly alleviated these histologic and functional changes during the acute phase.
Conclusions We suggest that cardiac fibroblasts are of pathogenetic importance in inflammation and fibrosis in the heart during sepsis, leading to cardiac dysfunction that would affect the outcome of sepsis syndrome.
- Cardiac dysfunction
- Cardiac fibroblast
- Cardiac fibrosis
- Polymicrobial sepsis
ASJC Scopus subject areas