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Helium-Induced Changes in Circulating Caveolin in Mice Suggest a Novel Mechanism of Cardiac Protection.


The noble gas helium (He) induces cardioprotection in vivo through unknown molecular mechanisms. He can interact with and modify cellular membranes. Caveolae are cholesterol and sphingolipid-enriched invaginations of the plasma-membrane-containing caveolin (Cav) proteins that are critical in protection of the heart. Mice (C57BL/6J) inhaled either He gas or adjusted room air. Functional measurements were performed in the isolated Langendorff perfused heart at 24 h post He inhalation. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometry (EPR) of samples was carried out at 24 h post He inhalation. Immunoblotting was used to detect Cav-1/3 expression in whole-heart tissue, exosomes isolated from platelet free plasma (PFP) and membrane fractions. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy analysis of cardiac tissue and serum function and metabolomic analysis were performed. In contrast to cardioprotection observed in in vivo models, the isolated Langendorff perfused heart revealed no protection after He inhalation. However, levels of Cav-1/3 were reduced 24 h after He inhalation in whole-heart tissue, and Cav-3 was increased in exosomes from PFP. Addition of serum to muscle cells in culture or naïve ventricular tissue increased mitochondrial metabolism without increasing reactive oxygen species generation. Primary and lipid metabolites determined potential changes in ceramide by He exposure. In addition to direct effects on myocardium, He likely induces the release of secreted membrane factors enriched in caveolae. Our results suggest a critical role for such circulating factors in He-induced organ protection.

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