BACKGROUND: Myocardial infarction (MI) coinciding with depression worsens prognosis. Although Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF) is recognized to play a role in both conditions, the therapeutic potential of TNF inhibition is disappointing. TNF activates two receptors, TNFR1 and TNFR2, associated with opposite effects. Therefore, anti-inflammatory treatment with specific TNF receptor interference was compared to non-specific TNF inhibition regarding effects on heart, (neuro)inflammation, brain and behavior in mice with MI.
METHODS: Male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to MI or sham surgery. One hour later, MI mice were randomized to either non-specific TNF inhibition by Enbrel, specific TNFR1 antagonist-, or specific TNFR2 agonist treatment until the end of the protocol. Control sham and MI mice received saline. Behavioral evaluation was obtained day 10-14 after surgery. Eighteen days post-surgery, cardiac function was measured and mice were sacrificed. Blood and tissue samples were collected for analyses of (neuro)inflammation.
RESULTS: MI mice displayed left ventricular dysfunction, without heart failure, (neuro) inflammation or depressive-like behavior. Both receptor-specific interventions, but not Enbrel, doubled early post-MI mortality. TNFR2 agonist treatment improved left ventricular function and caused hyper-ramification of microglia, with no effect on depressive-like behavior. In contrast, TNFR1 antagonist treatment was associated with enhanced (neuro)inflammation: more plasma eosinophils and monocytes; increased plasma Lcn2 and hippocampal microglia and astrocyte activation. Moreover, increased baseline heart rate, with reduced beta-adrenergic responsiveness indicated sympathetic activation, and coincided with reduced exploratory behavior in the open field. Enbrel did not affect neuroinflammation nor behavior.
CONCLUSION: Early receptor interventions, but not non-specific TNF inhibition, increased mortality. Apart from this undesired effect, the general beneficial profile after TNFR2 stimulation, rather than the unfavourable effects of TNFR1 inhibition, would render TNFR2 stimulation preferable over non-specific TNF inhibition in MI with comorbid depression. However, follow-up studies regarding optimal timing and dosing are needed.