Cardiac-specific catalase overexpression rescues anthrax lethal toxin-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction: Role of oxidative stress and autophagy

Machender R. Kandadi, Xuejun Yu, Arthur E. Frankel, Jun Ren

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Background: Lethal and edema toxins secreted by Bacillus anthracis during anthrax infection were found to incite serious cardiovascular complications. However, the underlying mechanisms in anthrax lethal toxin-induced cardiac anomalies remain unknown. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of antioxidant enzyme catalase in anthrax lethal toxin-induced cardiomyocyte contractile dysfunction.Methods: Wild type (WT) and cardiac-specific catalase overexpression mice were challenged with lethal toxin (2 μg/g, intraperotineally (i.p.)). Cardiomyocyte contractile and intracellular Ca2+ properties were assessed 18 h later using an IonOptix edge-detection system. Proteasome function was assessed using chymotrypsin-like and caspase-like activities. GFP-LC3 puncta and Western blot analysis were used to evaluate autophagy and protein ubiquitination.Results: Lethal toxin exposure suppressed cardiomyocyte contractile function (suppressed peak shortening, maximal velocity of shortening/re-lengthening, prolonged duration of shortening/re-lengthening, and impaired intracellular Ca2+ handling), the effects of which were alleviated by catalase. In addition, lethal toxin triggered autophagy, mitochondrial and ubiquitin-proteasome defects, the effects of which were mitigated by catalase. Pretreatment of cardiomyocytes from catalase mice with the autophagy inducer rapamycin significantly attenuated or ablated catalase-offered protection against lethal toxin-induced cardiomyocyte dysfunction. On the other hand, the autophagy inhibitor 3-MA ablated or significantly attenuated lethal toxin-induced cardiomyocyte contractile anomalies.Conclusions: Our results suggest that catalase is protective against anthrax lethal toxin-induced cardiomyocyte contractile and intracellular Ca2+anomalies, possibly through regulation of autophagy and mitochondrial function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134
JournalBMC Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 7 2012



  • Autophagy
  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Contractile Function
  • Lethal Toxin
  • UPS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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