One of the most recently proposed candidates as a potential trigger for cardiovascular diseases is trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). Possible direct effects of TMAO on myocardial tissue, independent of vascular damage, have been only partially explored so far. In the present study, we assessed the detrimental direct effects of TMAO on cardiomyocyte contractility and intracellular calcium dynamics, and the ability of urolithin B-glucuronide (Uro B-gluc) in counteracting TMAO-induced cell damage. Cell mechanics and calcium transients were measured, and ultrastructural analysis was performed in ventricular cardiomyocytes isolated from the heart of normal adult rats. Cells were either untreated, exposed to TMAO, or to TMAO and Uro B-gluc. TMAO exposure worsened cardiomyocyte mechanics and intracellular calcium handling, as documented by the decrease in the fraction of shortening (FS) and the maximal rate of shortening and re-lengthening, associated with reduced efficiency in the intracellular calcium removal. Ultrastructurally, TMAO-treated cardiomyocytes also exhibited glycogen accumulation, a higher number of mitochondria and lipofuscin-like pigment deposition, suggesting an altered cellular energetic metabolism and a higher rate of protein oxidative damage, respectively. Uro B-gluc led to a complete recovery of cellular contractility and calcium dynamics, and morphologically to a reduced glycogen accumulation. We demonstrated for the first time a direct negative role of TMAO on cardiomyocyte functional properties and the ability of Uro B-gluc in counteracting these detrimental effects.
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