Metabolic and cardiovascular disease patients have increased plasma levels of lipids and, specifically, of palmitate, which can be toxic for several tissues. Trimetazidine (TMZ), a partial inhibitor of lipid oxidation, has been proposed as a metabolic modulator for several cardiovascular pathologies. However, its mechanism of action is controversial. Given the fact that TMZ is able to alter mitochondrial metabolism, we evaluated the protective role of TMZ on mitochondrial morphology and function in an in vitro model of lipotoxicity induced by palmitate. We treated cultured rat cardiomyocytes with BSA-conjugated palmitate (25 nM free), TMZ (0.1-100 μM), or a combination of both. We evaluated mitochondrial morphology and lipid accumulation by confocal fluorescence microscopy, parameters of mitochondrial metabolism (mitochondrial membrane potential, oxygen consumption rate [OCR], and ATP levels), and ceramide production by mass spectrometry and indirect immunofluorescence. Palmitate promoted mitochondrial fission evidenced by a decrease in mitochondrial volume (50%) and an increase in the number of mitochondria per cell (80%), whereas TMZ increased mitochondrial volume (39%), and decreased mitochondrial number (56%), suggesting mitochondrial fusion. Palmitate also decreased mitochondrial metabolism (ATP levels and OCR), while TMZ potentiated all the metabolic parameters assessed. Moreover, pretreatment with TMZ protected the cardiomyocytes from palmitate-induced mitochondrial fission and dysfunction. TMZ also increased lipid accumulation in cardiomyocytes, and prevented palmitate-induced ceramide production. Our data show that TMZ protects cardiomyocytes by changing intracellular lipid management. Thus, the beneficial effects of TMZ on patients with different cardiovascular pathologies can be related to modulation of the mitochondrial morphology and function.
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- Mitochondrial dynamics