Myocardial cell death in human diabetes

Andrea Frustaci, Jan Kajstura, Cristina Chimenti, Igor Jakoniuk, Annarosa Leri, Attilio Maseri, Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, Piero Anversa

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The renin-angiotensin system is upregulated with diabetes, and this may contribute to the development of a dilated myopathy. Angiotensin II (Ang II) locally may lead to oxidative damage, activating cardiac cell death. Moreover, diabetes and hypertension could synergistically impair myocardial structure and function. Therefore, apoptosis and necrosis were measured in ventricular myocardial biopsies obtained from diabetic and diabetic-hypertensive patients. Accumulation of a marker of oxidative stress, nitrotyrosine, and Ang II labeling were evaluated quantitatively. The diabetic heart showed cardiac hypertrophy, cavitary dilation, and depressed ventricular performance. These alterations were more severe with diabetes and hypertension. Diabetes was characterized by an 85 fold, 61-fold, and 26-fold increase in apoptosis of myocytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, respectively. Apoptosis in cardiac cells did not increase additionally with diabetes and hypertension. Diabetes increased necrosis by 4-fold in myocytes, 9-fold in endothelial cells, and 6-fold in fibroblasts. However, diabetes and hypertension increased necrosis by 7-fold in myocytes and 18-fold in endothelial cells. Similarly, Ang II labeling in myocytes and endothelial cells increased more with diabetes and hypertension than with diabetes alone. Nitrotyrosine localization in cardiac cells followed a comparable pattern. In spite of the difference in the number of nitrotyrosine-positive cells with diabetes and with diabetes and hypertension, apoptosis and necrosis of myocytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts were detected only in cells containing this modified amino acid. In conclusion, local increases in Ang II with diabetes and with diabetes and hypertension may enhance oxidative damage, activating cardiac cell apoptosis and necrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1132
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 8 2000


  • Heart failure
  • Nitrotyrosine
  • Oxidative damage
  • Renin-angiotensin system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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