Interleukin-1α dependent survival of cardiac fibroblasts is associated with StAR/STARD1 expression and improved cardiac remodeling and function after myocardial infarction

Talya Razin, Naomi Melamed-Book, Jasmin Argaman, Iris Galin, Yosef Lowy, Eli Anuka, Nili Naftali-Shani, Michal Kandel-Kfir, Benjamin P. Garfinkel, Shlomi Brielle, Zvi Granot, Ron N. Apte, Simon J. Conway, Jeffery D. Molkentin, Yehuda Kamari, Jonathan Leor, Joseph Orly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Aims: One unaddressed aspect of healing after myocardial infarction (MI) is how non-myocyte cells that survived the ischemic injury, keep withstanding additional cellular damage by stress forms typically arising during the post-infarction inflammation. Here we aimed to determine if cell survival is conferred by expression of a mitochondrial protein novel to the cardiac proteome, known as steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, (StAR/STARD1). Further studies aimed to unravel the regulation and role of the non-steroidogenic cardiac StAR after MI. Methods and results: Following permanent ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery in mouse heart, timeline western blot analyses showed that StAR expression corresponds to the inflammatory response to MI. Following the identification of StAR in mitochondria of cardiac fibroblasts in culture, confocal microscopy immunohistochemistry (IHC) identified StAR expression in left ventricular (LV) activated interstitial fibroblasts, adventitial fibroblasts and endothelial cells. Further work with the primary fibroblasts model revealed that interleukin-1α (IL-1α) signaling via NF-κB and p38 MAPK pathways efficiently upregulates the expression of the Star gene products. At the functional level, IL-1α primed fibroblasts were protected against apoptosis when exposed to cisplatin mimicry of in vivo apoptotic stress; yet, the protective impact of IL-1α was lost upon siRNA mediated StAR downregulation. At the physiological level, StAR expression was nullified during post-MI inflammation in a mouse model with global IL-1α deficiency, concomitantly resulting in a 4-fold elevation of apoptotic fibroblasts. Serial echocardiography and IHC studies of mice examined 24 days after MI revealed aggravation of LV dysfunction, LV dilatation, anterior wall thinning and adverse tissue remodeling when compared with loxP control hearts. Conclusions: This study calls attention to overlooked aspects of cellular responses evolved under the stress conditions associated with the default inflammatory response to MI. Our observations suggest that LV IL-1α is cardioprotective, and at least one mechanism of this action is mediated by induction of StAR expression in border zone fibroblasts, which renders them apoptosis resistant. This acquired survival feature also has long-term ramifications on the heart recovery by diminishing adverse remodeling and improving the heart function after MI.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiac fibroblasts
  • Cardiac remodeling
  • IL-1α
  • Myocardial infarction
  • StAR


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