Myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is characterized by cell death via various cellular mechanisms upon reperfusion. As a new type of cell death, ferroptosis provides new opportunities to reduce myocardial cell death. Ferroptosis is known to be more active during reperfusion than ischemia. However, the mechanisms regulating ferroptosis during ischemia and reperfusion remain largely unknown. The contribution of ferroptosis in ischemic and reperfused myocardium were detected by administered of Fer-1, a ferroptosis inhibitor to C57BL/6 mice, followed by left anterior descending (LAD) ligation surgery. Ferroptosis was evaluated by measurement of cell viability, ptgs2 mRNA level, iron production, malondialdehyde (MDA) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) levels. H9C2 cells were exposed to hypoxia/reoxygenation to mimic in vivo I/R. We used LC-MS/MS to identify potential E3 ligases that interacted with frataxin in heart tissue. Cardiac-specific overexpression of frataxin in whole heart was achieved by intracardiac injection of frataxin, carried by adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) containing cardiac troponin T (cTnT) promoter. We showed that regulators of iron metabolism, especially iron regulatory protein, were increased in the ischemic myocardium or hypoxia cardiomyocytes. In addition, we found that frataxin, which is involved in iron metabolism, is differentially expressed in the ischemic and reperfused myocardium and involved in the regulation of cardiomyocytes ferroptosis. Furthermore, we identified an E3 ligase, NHL repeat-containing 1 (NHLRC1), that mediates frataxin ubiquitination degradation. Cardiac-specific overexpression of frataxin ameliorated myocardial I/R injury through ferroptosis inhibition. Through a multi-level study from molecule to animal model, these findings uncover the key role of frataxin in inhibiting cardiomyocyte ferroptosis and provide new strategies and perspectives for the treatment of myocardial I/R injury.

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