Disruption of sarcolemmal dystrophin and beta-dystroglycan may be a potential mechanism for myocardial dysfunction in severe sepsis

Mara Rúbia N Celes, Diego Torres-Dueñas, Lygia Malvestio, Erica C Campos, Cibele M Prado, Fernando Q Cunha, Marcos A Rossi, Valdecir Blefari

Research output: Articles / NotesScientific Articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Evidence from our laboratory has shown alterations in myocardial structure in severe sepsis/septic shock. The morphological alterations are heralded by sarcolemmal damage, characterized by increased plasma membrane permeability caused by oxidative damage to lipids and proteins. The critical importance of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) in maintaining sarcolemmal stability led us to hypothesize that loss of dystrophin and associated glycoproteins could be involved in early increased sarcolemmal permeability in experimentally induced septic cardiomyopathy. Male C57Bl/6 mice were subjected to sham operation and moderate (MSI) or severe (SSI) septic injury induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Using western blot and immunofluorescence, a downregulation of dystrophin and beta-dystroglycan expression in both severe and moderate injury could be observed in septic hearts. The immunofluorescent and protein amount expressions of laminin-alpha2 were similar in SSI and sham-operated hearts. Consonantly, the evaluation of plasma membrane permeability by intracellular albumin staining provided evidence of severe injury of the sarcolemma in SSI hearts, whereas antioxidant treatment significantly attenuated the loss of sarcolemmal dystrophin expression and the increased membrane permeability. This study offers novel and mechanistic data to clarify subcellular events in the pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction in severe sepsis. The main finding was that severe sepsis leads to a marked reduction in membrane localization of dystrophin and beta-dystroglycan in septic cardiomyocytes, a process that may constitute a structural basis of sepsis-induced cardiac depression. In addition, increased sarcolemmal permeability suggests functional impairment of the DGC complex in cardiac myofibers. In vivo observation that antioxidant treatment significantly abrogated the loss of dystrophin expression and plasma membrane increased permeability supports the hypothesis that oxidative damage may mediate the loss of dystrophin and beta-dystroglycan in septic mice. These abnormal parameters emerge as therapeutic targets and their modulation may provide beneficial effects on future cardiovascular outcomes and mortality in sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531- 542
Number of pages12
JournalLaboratory investigation; a journal of technical methods and pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathies/etiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dystroglycans/physiology
  • Dystrophin/physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myocytes, Cardiac/physiology
  • Sarcolemma/physiology
  • Sepsis/complications


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