Vascular endothelial cell (EC)-derived factors play an important role in endothelial–cardiomyocyte crosstalk and could save cardiomyocytes (CMs) from injury. The manipulation of endothelial cells to secrete protective factors could enhance cardioprotection. Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) has been known to protect the heart. The goal of this study was to evaluate the in vitro paracrine protective effect and mechanisms of EC-derived human SLPI on cardiomyocytes subjected to hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R) injury. Stable endothelial cells overexpressing human SLPI were generated from an endothelial cell line (EA.hy926). The cytoprotective effect was determined by cell survival assay. The results showed that endothelial-derived recombinant human SLPI (rhSLPI) reduced simulated ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-(81.75% ± 1.42% vs. 60.27% ± 2.52%, p
< 0.05) and hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced EC injury (83.57% ± 1.78% vs. 63.07% ± 1.93%, p
< 0.05). Moreover, co-culture of ECs overexpressing rhSLPI with CMs at ratios 1:1 and 1:3 or treatment with conditioned medium enhanced cell viability by 10.51–16.7% (co-culture) and 15.25–20.45% (conditioned medium) by reducing intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, the Bax/Bcl-2 expression ratio, caspase-3, and caspase-8, and in preconditioned CMs by activation of p38 MAPK and Akt survival kinase. In conclusion, this study showed for the first time that EC-derived rhSLPI provided cardio-vasculoprotective effects against I/R injury as a possible alternative therapeutic strategy for cardioprotection.
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