OBJECTIVES: Fingolimod, a sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor agonist, is used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and exerts antiapoptotic properties. We hypothesized that sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor activation with fingolimod during acute myocardial infarction (MI) inhibits apoptosis, leading to increased myocardial salvage, reduced infarct size, and mitigated left ventricular (LV) remodeling in a porcine model of ischemia/reperfusion.
METHODS: Ischemia/reperfusion was induced in pigs by balloon occlusion of the left anterior descending artery, followed by reperfusion. Animals randomly received fingolimod or saline (control). In short-term experiments, fingolimod treatment activated the cardioprotective reperfusion injury salvage kinase and survivor activating factor enhancement pathways in the infarct border zone 24 hours after MI, leading to decreased cardiomyocyte apoptosis and reduced myocardial oxidative stress. These effects were abolished by specific inhibitors of both pathways, demonstrating that fingolimod-induced cardioprotection was mediated by reperfusion injury salvage kinase and survivor activating factor enhancement pathways.
RESULTS: In long-term experiments, fingolimod significantly improved myocardial salvage, reduced infarct size, and improved systolic LV function measured by cardiac magnetic resonance 1 week and 1 month after MI. Importantly, fingolimod mitigated the development of adverse post-MI LV remodeling 1 month after MI. Specifically, fingolimod treatment led to a significant reduction in LV mass, LV dilatation, and neurohormonal activation, and it preserved LV geometry. Furthermore, fingolimod decreased interstitial fibrosis, cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, and chronic activation of Akt and extracellular receptor kinase 1/2 in the remote noninfarcted myocardium.
CONCLUSIONS: Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor activation with fingolimod during acute MI reduced infarct size via the reperfusion injury salvage kinase and survivor activating factor enhancement pathways, improved systolic LV function, and mitigated post-MI LV remodeling. Our data strongly support a cardioprotective role for sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor activation during MI.