Ten years ago, we found that a brief exposure to 10-50 mM ethanol prior to cardiac ischemia reduces infarct size by ~70% in a process that is dependent on activation of epsilon protein kinase C, 5PKC. In the past funding period, we found that activation of the mitochondrial enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, ALDH2, appears to be required and sufficient for ethanol-induced cardiac protection from ischemia. The importance of mitochondrial ALDH2 in human health is also suggested by the increased propensity of 40% of East Asians that carry an inactivating mutation in the Aldh2 gene, Aldh2*2, to have a variety of chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress and the resulting accumulation of toxic aldehydes, including myocardial infarction. We plan to determine whether ethanol-induced cytoprotection requires 5PKC and ALDH2 activity, using genetically manipulated mice (AIM 1A). We will next identify the mechanisms that enable ethanol-induced entry of the cytosolic 5PKC into the mitochondria, where ALDH2 is found, (AIM 1B). We will then determine whether ALDH2 activation by ethanol and other activators reduces aldehydic adduct loads to reduce cytotoxicity (AIM 1C). We will determine whether acetaldehyde, which accumulates on ethanol treatment, contributes to ethanol-induced cardioprotection (AIM 1D) and determine whether ethanol- induced and 5PKC-mediated phosphorylation of ALDH2 protects ALDH2 activity from inactivation by long chain aldehydes and whether the effect is additive with new small molecule activators of ALDH2, called Alda (AIM 1E).
In AIM 2, we will study the loss of ethanol-induced cardioprotection due to ALDH2 inhibition by nitroglycerine (NTG). We will identify small molecule that inhibit NTG-induced ALDH2 inactivation (NTG tolerance) (AIM 2A, B) and will determine the effect of NTG tolerance inhibitors on ethanol-induced 5PKC- mediated cardioprotection from acute ischemic damage ex vivo and in animal models (AIM 2C). Together, these studies will elucidate fundamental processes associated with cytoprotection in animals with wildtype and inactive (ALDH2*2) form of ALDH2 and how moderate ethanol consumption affects them. Our studies will also provide new tools and test their application as treatment for cardiac ischemia using animal models.

Public Health Relevance

Acute exposure to moderate levels of ethanol protects the heart from ischemic injury, such as that occurring during coronary bypass surgery. We recently found that a major enzyme involved in metabolizing toxins that accumulate during oxidative stress is critical for this ethanol-induced cardioprotection. Because of the potential toxic and addictive effects of ethanol, we searched for new compounds that directly activate this detoxifying enzyme and plan to test their efficacy in animal models of cardiac ischemia. This study may eventually provide new means to induce cytoprotection in humans subjected to ischemic insult.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism Study Section (MIM)
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Orosz, Andras
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Stanford University
Schools of Medicine
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