Vol. 46 (2004), N 2, p. 105-113

O. V. Anatskaya,1 A. E. Vinogradov

Institute of Cytology RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia;
1 e-mail: anatskaya@mail.cytspb.rssi.ru

Somatic polyploidy, defined as genome multiplication, was found in all differentiated mammalian tissues. The highest level of such a polyploidy was found in the myocardium. This phenomenon was shown to be associated with changes in the pattern of gene expression. Hence, polyploidization may create cells with new physiology. The effect of polyploidy on the heart function has never been studied. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of polyploidy on cardiomyocyte functioning and heart aerobic capacity. DNA and the total protein content, nucleolar activity reflecting the rate of rRNA synthesis and, consequently, ribosome biogenesis, were measured in ventricular myocytes isolated from the human and from 21 mammalian species by image cyto-metry and microscopic morphometry. The total protein content was estimated after staining slides with na-phtol-yellow dye. For measurement of DNA and nucleolar area, staining with Hoechst and AgNOj was applied. Cardiac aerobic capacity was evaluated by the heart mass to body mass ratio. A negative correlation between the heart index and the average cell ploidy was revealed (r = -0.79; P < 0.0001). The average genome number per myocyte was registered to be higher by approximately 35 % in the sedentary mammals, with the heart index about 0.4 % from body mass, than in the athlets with heart index about 0.6 % of body mass. Polyploidization was shown to be associated with a sharp decrease in the protein/DNA ratio in cardiomyocytes. As a result, cardiomyo-cytes in the athletic mammals with poorly polyploid hearts have much higher protein content per genome than do cells in the sedentary species with highly polyploid hearts. Surprizingly, despite decreased protein/DNA ratio, the nucleolar area per genome significantly increased with polyploidyzation, indicating the imbalance between the cellular protein content and the rate of ribosome biogenesis. Such an imbalance should obviously impair cardiac function, because the additional genomes take some valuable space and biological resources from the cell, which could have been otherwise directed to the maintenance of cardiomyocyte contractile machinery. It is generally accepted that somatic polyploidy is associated with oxidative stress and energetic starvation. Thus, we suppose that additional genomes may serve for cardiomyocyte protection from oxidative damage in the hearts.

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