Mitochondrial connexin 43 in sex-dependent myocardial responses and estrogen-mediated cardiac protection following acute ischemia/reperfusion injury

Meijing Wang, Kwynlyn Smith, Qing Yu, Caroline Miller, Kanhaiya Singh, Chandan K. Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Preserving mitochondrial activity is crucial in rescuing cardiac function following acute myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). The sex difference in myocardial functional recovery has been observed after I/R. Given the key role of mitochondrial connexin43 (Cx43) in cardiac protection initiated by ischemic preconditioning, we aimed to determine the implication of mitochondrial Cx43 in sex-related myocardial responses and to examine the effect of estrogen (17β-estradiol, E2) on Cx43, particularly mitochondrial Cx43-involved cardiac protection following I/R. Mouse primary cardiomyocytes and isolated mouse hearts (from males, females, ovariectomized females, and doxycycline-inducible Tnnt2-controlled Cx43 knockout without or with acute post-ischemic E2 treatment) were subjected to simulated I/R in culture or Langendorff I/R (25-min warm ischemia/40-min reperfusion), respectively. Mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial superoxide production were measured in cardiomyocytes. Myocardial function and infarct size were determined. Cx43 and its isoform, Gja1-20k, were assessed in mitochondria. Immunoelectron microscopy and co-immunoprecipitation were also used to examine mitochondrial Cx43 and its interaction with estrogen receptor-α by E2 in mitochondria, respectively. There were sex disparities in stress-induced cardiomyocyte mitochondrial function. E2 partially restored mitochondrial activity in cardiomyocytes following acute injury. Post-ischemia infusion of E2 improved functional recovery and reduced infarct size with increased Cx43 content and phosphorylation in mitochondria. Ablation of cardiac Cx43 aggravated mitochondrial damage and abolished E2-mediated cardiac protection during I/R. Female mice were more resistant to myocardial I/R than age-matched males with greater protective role of mitochondrial Cx43 in female hearts. Post-ischemic E2 usage augmented mitochondrial Cx43 content and phosphorylation, increased mitochondrial Gja1-20k, and showed cardiac protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Estrogen
  • Mitochondrial connexin 43
  • Myocardial ischemia reperfusion
  • Sex-based mitochondrial performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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