Repetitive stimulation of autophagy-lysosome machinery by intermittent fasting preconditions the myocardium to ischemia-reperfusion injury

Rebecca J. Godar, Xiucui Ma, Haiyan Liu, John T. Murphy, Carla J. Weinheimer, Attila Kovacs, Seth D. Crosby, Paul Saftig, Abhinav Diwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Autophagy, a lysosomal degradative pathway, is potently stimulated in the myocardium by fasting and is essential for maintaining cardiac function during prolonged starvation. We tested the hypothesis that intermittent fasting protects against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury via transcriptional stimulation of the autophagy-lysosome machinery. Adult C57BL/6 mice subjected to 24-h periods of fasting, every other day, for 6 wk were protected from invivo ischemia-reperfusion injury on a fed day, with marked reduction in infarct size in both sexes as compared with nonfasted controls. This protection was lost in mice heterozygous null for Lamp2 (coding for lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2), which demonstrate impaired autophagy in response to fasting with accumulation of autophagosomes and SQSTM1, an autophagy substrate, in the heart. In lamp2 null mice, intermittent fasting provoked progressive left ventricular dilation, systolic dysfunction and hypertrophy; worsening cardiomyocyte autophagosome accumulation and lack of protection to ischemia-reperfusion injury, suggesting that intact autophagy-lysosome machinery is essential for myocardial homeostasis during intermittent fasting and consequent ischemic cardioprotection. Fasting and refeeding cycles resulted in transcriptional induction followed by downregulation of autophagy-lysosome genes in the myocardium. This was coupled with fasting-induced nuclear translocation of TFEB (transcription factor EB), a master regulator of autophagy-lysosome machinery; followed by rapid decline in nuclear TFEB levels with refeeding. Endogenous TFEB was essential for attenuation of hypoxia-reoxygenation-induced cell death by repetitive starvation, in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, in-vitro. Taken together, these data suggest that TFEBmediated transcriptional priming of the autophagy-lysosome machinery mediates the beneficial effects of fastinginduced autophagy in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1560
Number of pages24
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2015


  • Autophagy
  • Fasting
  • Ischemia-reperfusion
  • Lysosome
  • Myocardial infarction


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