Exposure to the excitotoxin domoic acid (DOM) has been shown to produce cardiac lesions in both clinical and animal studies. We have previously shown that DOM failed to directly affect cardiomyocyte viability and energetics, but the development of this cardiomyopathy has remained unexplained. The present study compared effects of high-level seizure induction obtained by intraperitoneal (2 mg/kg) or intrahippocampal (100 pmol) bolus administration of DOM on development of cardiac pathologies in a rat model. Assessment of cardiac pressure derivatives and coronary flow rates revealed a significant time-dependent decrease in combined left ventricular (LV) systolic and diastolic function at 1, 3, 7, and 14 days after intraperitoneal administration and at 7 and 14 days after intrahippocampal DOM administration. LV dysfunction was matched by a similar time-dependent decrease in mitochondrial respiratory control, associated with increased proton leakage, and in mitochondrial enzyme activities. Microscopic examination of the LV midplane revealed evidence of progressive multifocal ischemic damage within the subendocardial, septal, and papillary regions. Lesions ranged from reversible early damage (vacuolization) to hypercontracture and inflammatory necrosis progressing to fibrotic scarring. Plasma proinflammatory IL-1α, IL-1β, and TNF-α cytokine levels were also increased from 3 days after seizure induction. The observed cardiomyopathies did not differ between intraperitoneal and intrahippocampal groups, providing strong evidence that cardiac damage after DOM exposure is a consequence of a seizure-evoked autonomic response
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