Objective: In this study, the metabolic state of the heart tissue is studied in a rodent model of ischemia and reperfusion (IR) in rats exposed to irradiation injury using a cryofluorescence imaging technique. Mitochondrial metabolic state is evaluated by autofluorescence of mitochondrial metabolic coenzymes NADH and FAD. The redox ratio (NADH/FAD) is used as a biochemical/metabolic marker of oxidative stress, before, during and after IR.
Materials and methods: Hearts were extracted from non-irradiated (control) and irradiated rats (Irr) given 15 Gy whole thorax irradiation rats (WTI). After 35 days, before the onset of radiation pneumonitis, these two groups of hearts were subjected to one of three treatments; Time control (TC; hearts perfused for the duration of the protocol without ischemia or IR), 25 minutes ischemia with no reperfusion and 25 minutes ischemia followed by 60 minutes reperfusion (IR). Hearts were removed from the Langendorff perfusion system and immediately snap frozen in liquid N2 to preserve the metabolic state after injury; 3-dimensional (3D) cryo-fluorescent imager was used to obtain in fixed time NADH and FAD fluorescence images and their distribution across the entire ventricles. In this study, a 30-μm axial resolution was used resulting in 550 cross-section images per heart. The 3D images of the redox ratio and their respective histograms were calculated in the six groups of hearts.
Results: We compared the mean values of the redox ratio in each group, which demonstrate a reduced mitochondrial redox state in both irradiated and non-irradiated ischemic hearts and an oxidized mitochondrial redox state for both irradiated and non-irradiated ischemia-reperfusion hearts compared to control hearts. For non-irradiated hearts, ischemia and IR injuries resulted respectively in 61% increase and 54% decrease in redox ratio when compared with TC. For irradiated hearts, ischemia and IR injuries resulted respectively in 90% increase and 50% decrease in redox ratio when compared to TC.
Conclusion: The cryoimager is able to quantify ischemia and IR injuries. Cryoimaging is a unique 3D imaging tools that provides quantitative measurement of tissue metabolic state. Hearts that underwent irradiation indicates a more oxidized metabolic state in the tissue. This change persists across all three treatments.