Psychological or physical stress induces an elevation of corticosteroids in the circulating system. We report here that corticosterone (CT) protects cardiomyocytes from apoptotic cell death induced by doxorubicin (Dox), an antineoplastic drug known to induce cardiomyopathy possibly through reactive oxygen species production. The cytoprotection induced by CT is within the range of physiologically relevant doses. The lowest dose tested, 0.1 μM (or 3.5 μg/dl), inhibited apoptosis by approximately 25% as determined by caspase activity. With 1 μM CT, cardiomyocytes gain a cytoprotective effect after 8 h of incubation and remain protected for at least 72 h. Hydrocortisone, cortisone, dexamethasone, and aldosterone but not androstenedione or cholesterol also induced cytoprotection. Analyses of 20,000 gene expression sequences using Affymetrix high-density oligonucleotide array found that CT caused up-regulation of 140 genes and down-regulation of 108 genes over 1.5-fold. Among the up-regulated genes are bcl-xL, metallothioneins, glutathione peroxidase-3, and glutathione S-transferases. Western blot analyses revealed that CT induced an elevation of bcl-xL but not bcl-2 or proapoptotic factors bax, bak, and bad. Inhibiting the expression of bcl-xL reduced the cytoprotective effect of CT. Our data suggest that CT induces a cytoprotective effect on cardiomyocytes in association with reprogramming gene expression and induction of bcl-xL gene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine