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Myocardial infarction – has it got a rhythm?

06.06.2016 -

IPEK research team led by Sabine Steffens has now discovered that Myocardial infarction (MI) during the sleep-to-wake transition period is indeed associated with larger infarct sizes, worsened cardiac function and higher mortality in mice. Their study just published in EMBO Molecular Medicine demonstrates that neutrophils infiltrate the myocardium in a time-of-day dependent manner, leading to an exaggerated inflammatory response after MI onset at the beginning of the active phase. A key role for this process plays the chemokine receptor CXCR2 on neutrophils, whose expression levels oscillate throughout the day, peaking at the beginning of the active phase. Pharmacological blockade of CXCR2 reduces neutrophil-mediated inflammation and cardiac damage, thereby offering a potential new therapeutic target for improving post-MI recovery.


Myocardial infarction (MI) occurs when blood flow through the coronary arteries stops due to a thrombus, thereby causing ischemic damage to the heart. MI occurs mostly during the early morning hours and mounting clinical evidence suggests that also the outcome is time-of-day dependent. The underlying mechanisms behind this association are not well understood.



M. Schloss, M. Horckmans, K. Nitz, J. Duchene, M. Drechsler, K. Bidzhekov, C. Scheiermann, C. Weber, O. Soehnlein, S. Steffens. The time-of-day of myocardial infarction onset affects healing through oscillations in cardiac neutrophil recruitment. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2016, May 25