Hypothermic preconditioning of endothelial cells attenuates cold-induced injury by a ferritin-dependent process
Hypothermia for myocardial protection or storage of vascular grafts may damage the endothelium and impair vascular function upon reperfusion/rewarming. Catalytic iron pools and oxidative stress are important mediators of cold-induced endothelial injury. Because endothelial cells are highly adaptive, we hypothesized that hypothermic preconditioning (HPC) protects cells at 0 degrees C by a heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and ferritin-dependent mechanism. Storage of human coronary artery endothelial cells at 0 degrees C caused the release of lactate dehydrogenase, increases in bleomycin-detectible iron (BDI), and increases in the ratio of oxidized/reduced glutathione, signifying oxidative stress. Hypoxia increased injury at 0 degrees C but did not increase BDI or oxidative stress further. HPC at 25 degrees C for 15-72 h attenuated these changes by an amount achievable by pretreating cells with 10-20 microM deferoxamine, an iron chelator, and protected cell viability. Treating cells with hemin chloride at 37 degrees C transiently increased intracellular heme, HO-1, BDI, and ferritin. Elevated heme/iron sensitized cells to 0 degrees C but ferritin was protective. HPC increased iron maximally after 2 h at 25 degrees C and ferritin levels peaked after 15 h. HO-1 was not induced. When HPC-mediated increases in ferritin were blocked by deferoxamine, protection at 0 degrees C was diminished. We conclude that HPC-mediated endothelial protection from hypothermic injury is an iron- and ferritin-dependent process.