Cathepsin B is one of the major lysosomal cysteine proteases that plays an important role in apoptosis. Herein, we investigated whether Cathepsin B is involved in cardiomyocyte apoptosis caused by hyperthermic injury (HI) and heat shock protein (HSP)-70 protects these cells from HI-induced apoptosis mediated by Cathepsin. HI was produced in H9C2 cells by putting them in a circulating 43 °C water bath for 120 min, whereas preinduction of HSP-70 was produced in H9C2 cells by mild heat preconditioning (or putting them in 42 °C water bath for 30 min) 8 h before the start of HI. It was found that HI caused both cardiomyocyte apoptosis and increased Cathepsin B activity in H9C2 cells. E-64-c, in addition to reducing Cathepsin B activity, significantly attenuated HI-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis (evidenced by increased apoptotic cell numbers, increased tuncated Bid (t-Bid), increased cytochrome C, increased caspase-9/-3, and decreased Bcl-2/Bax) in H9C2 cells. In addition, preinduction of HSP-70 by mild heat preconditioning or inhibition of HSP-70 by Tripolide significantly attenuated or exacerbated respectively both the cardiomyocyte apoptosis and increased Cathepsin B activity in H9C2 cells. Furthermore, the beneficial effects of pre-induction of HSP-70 by mild heat production in reducing both cardiomyocyte apoptosis and increased Cathepsin B activity caused by HI can be significantly reduced by Triptolide preconditioning. These results indicate that Cathepsin B is involved in HI-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis in H9C2 cells and HSP-70 protects these cells from HI-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis through Cathepsin B pathways.
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