Research Article

Ursodeoxycholic acid upregulates ERK and Akt in the protection of cardiomyocytes against CoCl2

Abstract

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is used to treat liver diseases and demonstrates cardioprotective effects. Accumulation of the plasma membrane sphingolipid sphingomyelin in the heart can lead to atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Sphingomyelinases (SMases) break down sphingomyelin, producing ceramide, and inhibition of SMases activity can promote cell survival. We hypothesized that UDCA regulates activation of ERK and Akt survival signaling pathways and SMases in protecting cardiac cells against hypoxia. Neonatal cardiomyocytes were isolated from 0- to 2-day-old Sprague Dawley rats, and given 100 μM CoCl2, 150 μM H2O2, or placed in a hypoxia chamber for 24 h. The ameliorative effects of 100-μM UDCA treatment for 12 h were then assessed using MTS, QuantiGene Plex (for Smpd1 and Smpd2), and SMase assays, beating rate assessment, and western blotting (for ERK and Akt). Data were analyzed by the paired Student t-tests and one-way analyses of variance. Cell viability decreased significantly after H2O2 (85%), CoCl2 (50%), and hypoxia chamber (52%) treatments compared to the untreated control (100%). UDCA significantly counteracted the effects of chamber- and CoCl2- induced hypoxia on viability and beating rate. However, no significant differences were observed in acid SMase gene and protein expression between the untreated, CoCl2, and UDCA-CoCl2 groups. In contrast, neutral SMase gene and protein expression did significantly differ between the latter two groups. ERK and Akt phosphorylation was higher in hypoxic cardiomyocytes treated with UDCA than those given CoCl2 alone. In conclusion, UDCA regulates the activation of survival signaling proteins and SMases in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes during hypoxia.

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is used to treat liver diseases and demonstrates cardioprotective effects. Accumulation of the plasma membrane sphingolipid sphingomyelin in the heart can lead to atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Sphingomyelinases (SMases) break down sphingomyelin, producing ceramide, and inhibition of SMases activity can promote cell survival. We hypothesized that UDCA regulates activation of ERK and Akt survival signaling pathways and SMases in protecting cardiac cells against hypoxia. Neonatal cardiomyocytes were isolated from 0- to 2-day-old Sprague Dawley rats, and given 100 μM CoCl2, 150 μM H2O2, or placed in a hypoxia chamber for 24 h. The ameliorative effects of 100-μM UDCA treatment for 12 h were then assessed using MTS, QuantiGene Plex (for Smpd1 and Smpd2), and SMase assays, beating rate assessment, and western blotting (for ERK and Akt). Data were analyzed by the paired Student t-tests and one-way analyses of variance. Cell viability decreased significantly after H2O2 (85%), CoCl2 (50%), and hypoxia chamber (52%) treatments compared to the untreated control (100%). UDCA significantly counteracted the effects of chamber- and CoCl2- induced hypoxia on viability and beating rate. However, no significant differences were observed in acid SMase gene and protein expression between the untreated, CoCl2, and UDCA-CoCl2 groups. In contrast, neutral SMase gene and protein expression did significantly differ between the latter two groups. ERK and Akt phosphorylation was higher in hypoxic cardiomyocytes treated with UDCA than those given CoCl2 alone. In conclusion, UDCA regulates the activation of survival signaling proteins and SMases in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes during hypoxia.