It has been reported that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) deficiency reduces infarct size after myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (MI/R). However, measurement of MI/R injury was limited and did not include cardiac function. In a chronic closed-chest model we assessed whether cardiac function is preserved in TLR4-deficient mice (C3H/HeJ) following MI/R, and whether myocardial and systemic cytokine expression differed compared to wild type (WT).
Infarct size (IS) in C3H/HeJ assessed by TTC staining after 60 min ischemia and 24h reperfusion was significantly smaller than in WT. Despite a smaller infarct size, echocardiography showed no functional difference between C3H/HeJ and WT. Left-ventricular developed pressure measured with a left-ventricular catheter was lower in C3H/HeJ (63.0 ± 4.2 mmHg vs. 77.9 ± 1.7 mmHg in WT, p < 0.05). Serum cytokine levels and myocardial IL-6 were higher in WT than in C3H/HeJ (p < 0.05). C3H/HeJ MI/R showed increased myocardial IL-1β and IL-6 expression compared to their respective shams (p < 0.05), indicating TLR4-independent cytokine activation due to MI/R.
These results demonstrate that, although a mutant TLR4 signaling cascade reduces myocardial IS and serum cytokine levels, it does not preserve myocardial function. The change in inflammatory response, secondary to a non-functional TLR-4 receptor, may contribute to the observed dichotomy between infarct size and function in the TLR-4 mutant mouse.