Examining Cardiomyocyte Dysfunction Using Acute Chemical Induction of an Ageing Phenotype

Masoud, Said; McDonald, Fraser; Bister, Dirk; Kotecki, Claire; Bootman, Martin D. and Rietdorf, Katja (2020). Examining Cardiomyocyte Dysfunction Using Acute Chemical Induction of an Ageing Phenotype. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(1), article no. 197.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010197


Much effort is focussed on understanding the structural and functional changes in the heart that underlie age-dependent deterioration of cardiac performance. Longitudinal studies, using aged animals, have pinpointed changes occurring to the contractile myocytes within the heart. However, whilst longitudinal studies are important, other experimental approaches are being advanced that can recapitulate the phenotypic changes seen during ageing. This study investigated the induction of an ageing cardiomyocyte phenotypic change by incubation of cells with hydroxyurea for several days ex vivo. Hydroxyurea incubation has been demonstrated to phenocopy age- and senescence-induced changes in neurons, but its utility for ageing studies with cardiac cells has not been examined. Incubation of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes with hydroxyurea for up to 7 days replicated specific aspects of cardiac ageing including reduced systolic calcium responses, increased alternans and a lesser ability of the cells to follow electrical pacing. Additional functional and structural changes were observed within the myocytes that pointed to ageing-like remodelling, including lipofuscin granule accumulation, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, increased production of reactive oxygen species, and altered ultrastructure, such as mitochondria with disrupted cristae and disorganised myofibres. These data highlight the utility of alternative approaches for exploring cellular ageing whilst avoiding the costs and co-morbid factors that can affect longitudinal studies.

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