Acute myocardial infarction causes lethal cardiomyocyte injury during ischaemia and reperfusion (I/R). Histones have been described as important Danger Associated Molecular Proteins (DAMPs) in sepsis. Aims The objective of this study was to establish whether extracellular histone release contributes to myocardial infarction. Methods and results Isolated, perfused rat hearts were subject to I/R. Nucleosomes and histone H4 release was detected early during reperfusion. Sodium-β-O-Methyl cellobioside sulfate (mCBS), a newly developed histone-neutralising compound, significantly reduced infarct size whilst also reducing the detectable levels of histones. Histones were directly toxic to primary adult rat cardiomyocytes in vitro. This was prevented by mCBS, or HIPe, a recently described, histone-H4 neutralizing peptide, but not by an inhibitor of TLR4, a receptor previously reported to be involved in DAMP-mediated cytotoxicity. Furthermore, TLR4-reporter HEK293 cells revealed that cytotoxicity of histone H4 was independent of TLR4 and NF-κB. In an in vivo rat model of I/R, HIPe significantly reduced infarct size. Conclusion Histones released from the myocardium are cytotoxic to cardiomyocytes, via a TLR4-independent mechanism. The targeting of extracellular histones provides a novel opportunity to limit cardiomyocyte death during I/R injury of the myocardium. Translational perspective Acute myocardial infarction causes lethal cardiomyocyte injury during ischaemia and reperfusion (I/R). New approaches are needed to prevent cardiomyocyte injury and limit final infarct size. We show that histones released from damaged cells, and histone-H4 in particular, causes rapid cardiomyocyte death during I/R. mCBS, a compounds targeting histones non-specifically, was cardioprotective in ex vivo rat hearts, while HIPe, a targeting histone H4 specifically, was cardioprotective in an in vivo rat model. HIPe may have potential as a therapeutic agent in the setting of acute myocardial infarction.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.