Background: The mechanisms underlying cardiac contractile dysfunction after transplantation remain poorly defined. Previous work has revealed that inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is expressed in the rat heterotopic cardiac allograft during rejection; resultant overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) might cause cardiac contractile dysfunction via the negative inotropic and cytotoxic actions of NO. In this investigation, we tested the hypothesis that induction of iNOS may occur and be associated with cardiac allograft contractile dysfunction in humans. Methods and Results: We prospectively studied 16 patients in the first year after cardiac transplantation at the time of serial surveillance endomyocardial biopsy. Clinical data, the results of biopsy histology, and echocardiographic and Doppler evaluation of left ventricular systolic and diastolic function were recorded. Total RNA was extracted from biopsy specimens, and mRNA for β-actin, detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using human specific primers, was used as a constitutive gene control; iNOS mRNA was similarly detected by RT-PCR using human specific primers. iNOS protein was detected in biopsy frozen sections by immunofluorescence. Myocardial cGMP was measured by radioimmunoassay, and serum nitrogen oxide levels (NO(x)=NO2+NO3) were measured by chemiluminescence. iNOS mRNA was detected in allograft myocardium at some point in each patient and in 59 of 123 biopsies (48%) overall. In individual patients, iNOS mRNA expression was episodic and time dependent; the frequency of expression was highest during the first 186 days after transplant (P=.0006). iNOS protein associated with iNOS mRNA was detected by immunofluorescence in cardiac myocytes. iNOS mRNA expression was not related to the ISHLT histological grade of rejection or to serum levels of NO(x) but was associated with increased levels of myocardial cGMP (P=.01) and with both systolic (P=.024) and diastolic (P=.006) left ventricular contractile dysfunction measured by echocardiography and Doppler. Conclusions: These data support a relation between iNOS mRNA expression and contractile dysfunction in the human cardiac allograft.
- heart failure
- nitric oxide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)