Long-chain acylcarnitines determine ischaemia/reperfusion-induced damage in heart mitochondria

Edgars Liepinsh, Marina Makrecka-Kuka, Kristine Volska, Janis Kuka, Elina Makarova, Unigunde Antone, Eduards Sevostjanovs, Reinis Vilskersts, Arnis Strods, Kaspars Tars, Maija Dambrova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The accumulation of long-chain fatty acids (FAs) and their CoA and carnitine esters is observed in the ischaemic myocardium after acute ischaemia/reperfusion. The aim of the present study was to identify harmful FA intermediates and their detrimental mechanisms of action in mitochondria and the ischaemic myocardium. In the present study, we found that the long-chain acyl-CoA and acylcarnitine content is increased in mitochondria isolated from an ischaemic area of themyocardium. In analysing the FA derivative content, we discovered that long-chain acylcarnitines, but not acyl-CoAs, accumulate at concentrations that are harmful to mitochondria. Acylcarnitine accumulation in the mitochondrial intermembrane space is a result of increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1) and decreased carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (CPT2) activity in ischaemic myocardium and it leads to inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation, which in turn induces mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization and stimulates the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cardiac mitochondria. Thanks to protection mediated by acyl-CoA-binding protein (ACBP), the heart is much better guarded against the damaging effects of acyl- CoAs than against acylcarnitines. Supplementation of perfusion buffer with palmitoylcarnitine (PC) before occlusion resulted in a 2-fold increase in the acylcarnitine content of the heart and increased the infarct size (IS) by 33%. A pharmacologically induced decrease in the mitochondrial acylcarnitine content reduced the IS by 44%. Long-chain acylcarnitines are harmful FA intermediates, accumulating in ischaemic heart mitochondria and inducing inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation. Therefore, decreasing the acylcarnitine content via cardioprotective drugs may represent a novel treatment strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1202
Number of pages12
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Acylcarnitine
  • Cardioprotection
  • Fatty acids
  • Ischaemia/reperfusion damage
  • Mitochondria

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 1.6 Biological sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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