Therapeutic hypothermia during cardiac surgery has been widely used for neuroprotection and to attenuate the systemic inflammatory response due to cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). Experimental data suggest that cold-shock protein RNA-binding motif 3 (RBM3), which is induced in response to hypothermia, plays a key role in hypothermia-induced organ protection. To date, investigation on RBM3 has been performed exclusively in vitro or in animal models, and the detection and regulation of RBM3 in human blood has not been investigated until now. The objective was to investigate the level of RBM3 protein and cytokine expression profile involved in the inflammatory response in patients with congenital heart disease undergoing cardiac surgery involving CPB and therapeutic hypothermia. A single-center prospective trial with 23 patients undergoing cardiac surgery with CPB was performed. RBM3 protein was quantified in blood serum samples collected from patients and healthy individuals by employing a new developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Cytokine levels were analyzed from dry blood spot samples by using a Quanterix Simoa Immunoassay. For the first time, RBM3 protein was detected in blood samples of patients with congenital heart disease undergoing cardiac surgery. Hereby, RBM3 protein concentrations were significantly elevated in patients after cardiac surgery with CPB and mild hypothermia as compared with pre-surgery levels. Moreover, a complex immune reaction with significant induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-1 beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-16, IL-18, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, CC-chemokine ligand [CCL]3, CCL4, intercellular adhesion molecule-1) in response to CPB was detected. Significantly elevated vascular endothelial growth factor and matrix metallopeptidase 3 concentrations reflecting ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury were observed 24 hours after weaning from CPB. The use of CPB is still associated with a complex inflammatory response. RBM3 protein is measurable in blood samples of patients with significantly higher concentrations after cardiac surgery with CPB and mild-to-moderate hypothermia. RBM3 is a new candidate as a biomarker for therapeutic hypothermia and a possible new therapeutic target for organ protection.