Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), the receptor for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of gram-negative pathogens expressed in the heart, is activated by several endogenous ligands associated with tissue injury in response to myocardial infarction (MI). The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of TLR4 signaling in cardiomyocytes dysfunction following hypoxia (90 min) using multiple methodologies such as knocking down TLR4 and small interfering RNA (siTLR4). Cardiomyocytes of C57Bl/6 mice (WT) subjected to hypoxic stress showed increased cardiac release of LDH, HMGB1, IκB, TNF-α and myocardial apoptotic and necrotic markers (BAX, PI) compared to TLR4 knock out mice (TLR4KO). Treating these cardiomyocytes with siRNA against TLR4 decreased the damage markers (LDH, IκB, TNF-α). TLR4 silencing during hypoxic stress resulted in the activation of the p-AKT and p-GSK3β (by ˜25%). The latter is an indicator that there is a reduction of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening following hypoxic myocardial induced injury leading to preserved mitochondrial membrane potential. Silencing TLR4 in cardiomyocytes improved cell survival following hypoxic injury through activation of the AKT/GSK3β pathway, reduced inflammatory and apoptotic signals. These findings suggest that TLR4 may serve as a potential target in the treatment of ischemic myocardial injury. Moreover, RNA interfering targeting TLR4 expression represents a therapeutic strategy.Graphical abstract
Graphical abstract demonstrating a common pathway of cardioprotection following TLR4 silencing during hypoxia involving lower HMGB1 release, decreased activation of NF-kB signaling pathway and the activation of the salvage kinase pathway (AKT). The last phosphorylates GSK3β that inhibits mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening resulting reduction in cardiomyocytes necrotic and apoptotic ischemic injury.