Transplantation of autologously derived mitochondria protects the heart from ischemia-reperfusion injury

Akihiro Masuzawa, Kendra M. Black, Christina A. Pacak, Maria Ericsson, Reanne J. Barnett, Ciara Drumm, Pankaj Seth, Donald B. Bloch, Sidney Levitsky, Douglas B. Cowan, James D. McCully

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial damage and dysfunction occur during ischemia and modulate cardiac function and cell survival significantly during reperfusion. We hypothesized that transplantation of autologously derived mitochondria immediately prior to reperfusion would ameliorate these effects. New Zealand White rabbits were used for regional ischemia (RI), which was achieved by temporarily snaring the left anterior descending artery for 30 min. Following 29 min of RI, autologously derived mitochondria (RImitochondria; 9.7 ± 1.7 × 106/ml) or vehicle alone (RI-vehicle) were injected directly into the RI zone, and the hearts were allowed to recover for 4 wk. Mitochondrial transplantation decreased (P < 0.05) creatine kinase MB, cardiac troponin-I, and apoptosis significantly in the RI zone. Infarct size following 4 wk of recovery was decreased significantly in RI-mitochondria (7.9 ± 2.9%) compared with RIvehicle (34.2 ± 3.3%, P < 0.05). Serial echocardiograms showed that RI-mitochondria hearts returned to normal contraction within 10 min after reperfusion was started; however, RI-vehicle hearts showed persistent hypokinesia in the RI zone at 4 wk of recovery. Electrocardiogram and optical mapping studies showed that no arrhythmia was associated with autologously derived mitochondrial transplantation. In vivo and in vitro studies show that the transplanted mitochondria are evident in the interstitial spaces and are internalized by cardiomyocytes 2-8 h after transplantation. The transplanted mitochondria enhanced oxygen consumption, high-energy phosphate synthesis, and the induction of cytokine mediators and proteomic pathways that are important in preserving myocardial energetics, cell viability, and enhanced post-infarct cardiac function. Transplantation of autologously derived mitochondria provides a novel technique to protect the heart from ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H966-H982
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardioprotection
  • Ischemia
  • Mitochondria
  • Myocardial infarction


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