The influence of free radicals on apoptosis was studied in the human heart; 45 autopsy cases were examined by the nick end labelling method (NELM) that detects DNA fragmentation. Immunostaining for copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZn-SOD) and tissue transglutaminase (tTG) induced frequently during apoptosis were also studied. Positive immunoreaction for tTG was detected in mucinous degeneration of myocardial cells; these same cells were also positive for CuZn-SOD but negative for NELM. Myocardial cells showing basophilic alterations after haematoxylin and eosin staining were also positive for CuZn-SOD but negative for the other markers examined. Positive nuclear reaction by NELM was only observed in myocardial cells showing contraction band necrosis or irregularly shaped nuclei surrounding recent or long-standing infarcted foci. In these the other two markers were negative. Since mucinous degeneration lacks the distinguishing morphological features of apoptosis, immunoreactive tTG in this lesion may not imply that the cells are undergoing apoptosis. tTG can be induced in non-apoptotic conditions and may not be involved in apoptosis induced by infarction. Histological disassociation between CuZn-SOD expression and apoptosis suggests the possibility of a cytoprotective role played by endogenous CuZn-SOD against free radical generation in the human heart.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology