Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury leads to intensive sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation and inflammatory reactions. Whether renal sympathetic denervation (RDN) could be a new therapeutic strategy to modulate I/R inflammation and reduce infarct size after myocardial I/R injury needs to be explored. First, we investigated the correlation between plasma norepinephrine concentrations and circulating myeloid cell numbers in patients with acute myocardial infarction. And then, C57BL/6 mice underwent a “two-hit” operation, with 10% phenol applied to bilateral renal nerves to abrogate sympathoexcitation, and a 45-min ligation of the left coronary artery to induce myocardial I/R injury. The effects of RDN on the mobilization of immune cells in mice following myocardial I/R injury were explored. We observed a strong association between SNS overactivation and myeloid cell excessive accumulation in patients. In animal experiments, there was a significant reduction in infarct size per area at risk in the denervated-I/R group when compared to that of the innervated-I/R group (39.2% versus 49.8%; p < 0.005), and RDN also improved the left ventricular ejection fraction by 20% after 1 week.
Furthermore, the denervated-I/R group showed a decrease in the number of neutrophils and macrophages in the blood and the myocardium as reflected by immunohistochemical staining and flow cytometry analysis (p < 0.05); the decrease was associated with a significant reduction in the circulating production of IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α (p < 0.05). In summary, our study reveals a novel link between the SNS activity and inflammatory response undergoing myocardium I/R injury and identifies RDN as a potential therapeutic strategy against myocardium I/R injury via preserving the spleen immune cells mobilization.