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Involvement of Bcl-2 Signal Pathway in the Protective Effects of Apigenin on Anoxia/Reoxygenation-induced Myocardium Injury

Chen, Chuanjun MS; He, Huan PhD; Luo, Yong MS; Zhou, Min MS; Yin, Dong PhD; He, Ming PhD

Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology: February 2016 - Volume 67 - Issue 2 - p 152–163
doi: 10.1097/FJC.0000000000000331
Original Article

Abstract: Apigenin is a type of flavonoids, which has been demonstrated to protect myocardium against ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, the mechanism is still unclear. We hypothesized that the mechanism of cardioprotective action of apigenin on the I/R-induced injury might be caused via B-cell lymphoma (Bcl) signaling pathway. In this study, an in vitro I/R model was replicated on Langendorff-perfused heart and H9c2 cardiomyocytes by anoxia/reoxygenation (A/R) treatment. The recovery of cardiac contractile function, infarct size, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and creatine kinase (CK) in the perfusate, the expression and activity of Bcl-2 and caspase-3, and cardiomyocyte apoptosis were measured in the Langendorff heart undergoing A/R injury. In addition, the cell viability, LDH release, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm), expression of cytochrome c in the cytosol, and cell apoptosis were examined in the culture of H9c2 cardiomyocytes after the A/R. The results showed that apigenin significantly improved rat heart contractile function, reduced LDH release, infarct size and apoptotic rate, upregulated the expression of Bcl-2 and caspase-3, and downregulated the expression of cleaved caspase-3 after the A/R. Moreover, apigenin increased the cell viability and decreased the release of LDH, production of reactive oxygen species, release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol, and cell apoptosis in the culture of H9c2 cardiomyocytes after the A/R. In addition, inhibition of Bcl-2 activity by ABT-737 markedly attenuated the protective effect of apigenin on the A/R-induced myocardium injury. Taken together, we firstly demonstrated that the effect of apigenin against A/R injury in cardiomyocytes involves Bcl-2 signal pathway and at least partly depends on its effect of upregulating the expression of Bcl-2.

*Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory of Basic Pharmacology, Nanchang University School of Pharmaceutical Science, Nanchang, China; and

Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory of Molecular Medicine at the Second Affiliated Hospital, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China.

Reprints: Ming He, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Therapeutics, Nanchang University School of Pharmaceutical Science, Nanchang 330006, China (e-mail:

Supported by the Natural Scientific Foundations of China (81160402, 81072632).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

C. Chen, H. He, D. Yin, and M. He contributed equally to this work.

Received July 31, 2015

Accepted September 28, 2015

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.