Late exercise preconditioning (LEP) is confirmed to have a protective effect on acute cardiovascular stress. However, the mechanisms by which mitophagy participates in exercise preconditioning (EP)-induced cardioprotection remain unclear. LEP may involve mitophagy mediated by the receptors PARK2 gene–encoded E3 ubiquitin ligase (Parkin) and BCL2/adenovirus E1B 19 kDa protein-interacting protein 3 (Bnip3) to scavenge damaged mitochondria.
Our EP protocol involved four 10-minute periods of running, separated by 10-minute recovery intervals, plus a period of exhaustive running at 24 hours after EP. We assessed this late protective effect by injection of the autophagy inhibitor wortmannin, transmission electron microscopy, laser scanning confocal microscopy, and other molecular biotechnology methods; we simultaneously detected related markers, analyzed the specific relationships between mitophagy proteins, and assessed mitochondrial translocation.
Exhaustive exercise (EE) causes serious injuries to cardiomyofibrils, inducing hypoxia–ischemia and changing the ultrastructure. EE fails to clear excessively generated mitochondria to link with LC3 accumulation. After EP, increased autophagy levels at 30 minutes were converted to mitophagy within 24 hours. We found that LEP significantly suppressed EE-induced injuries, which we confirmed by observing decreased levels of the mitochondria-localized proteins COX4/1 and TOM20. LEP to exhaustion caused mitochondrial degradation by increasing the efficiency of LC3–outer mitochondrial membrane translocation in a Parkin-mediated manner, in which activated protein kinase and TOM70 may play both key roles. However, we did not observe mitophagy to be associated with Bnip3 mediation in LEP-induced cardioprotection. However, Bnip3 may play a role in inducing mitochondrial LC3-II increases. Wortmannin had no effect on LC3 translocation; instead, it influenced LC3-I to convert to LC3-II. Thus, suppressing mitophagy led to the attenuation of EP-induced cardioprotection.