Following myocardial infarction (MI), elderly patients have a poorer prognosis than younger patients, which may be linked to increased coronary microvessel susceptibility to injury. Interleukin-36 (IL-36), a newly discovered proinflammatory member of the IL-1 superfamily, may mediate this injury, but its role in the injured heart is currently not known. We first demonstrated the presence of IL-36(α/β) and its receptor (IL-36R) in ischemia/reperfusion-injured (IR-injured) mouse hearts and, interestingly, noted that expression of both increased with aging. An intravital model for imaging the adult and aged IR-injured beating heart in real time in vivo was used to demonstrate heightened basal and injury-induced neutrophil recruitment, and poorer blood flow, in the aged coronary microcirculation when compared with adult hearts. An IL-36R antagonist (IL-36Ra) decreased neutrophil recruitment, improved blood flow, and reduced infarct size in both adult and aged mice. This may be mechanistically explained by attenuated endothelial oxidative damage and VCAM-1 expression in IL-36Ra–treated mice. Our findings of an enhanced age-related coronary microcirculatory dysfunction in reperfused hearts may explain the poorer outcomes in elderly patients following MI. Since targeting the IL-36/IL-36R pathway was vasculoprotective in aged hearts, it may potentially be a therapy for treating MI in the elderly population.
Juma El-Awaisi, Dean P.J. Kavanagh, Marco R. Rink, Chris J. Weston, Nigel E. Drury, Neena Kalia
Changes in the expression of IL-36 cytokines and its receptor occur on the coronary microvasculature and not on the large blood vessels.