RATIONALE:: Aldehyde accumulation is regarded as a pathognomonic feature of oxidative stress-associated cardiovascular disease. OBJECTIVE:: We investigated how the heart compensates for the accelerated accumulation of aldehydes. METHODS AND RESULTS:: Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) has a major role in aldehyde detoxification in the mitochondria, a major source of aldehydes. Transgenic (Tg) mice carrying an Aldh2 gene with a single nucleotide polymorphism (Aldh2*2) were developed. This polymorphism has a dominant-negative effect and the Tg mice exhibited impaired ALDH activity against a broad range of aldehydes. Despite a shift toward the oxidative state in mitochondrial matrices, Aldh2*2 Tg hearts displayed normal left ventricular function by echocardiography and, because of metabolic remodeling, an unexpected tolerance to oxidative stress induced by ischemia/reperfusion injury. Mitochondrial aldehyde stress stimulated eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α phosphorylation. Subsequent translational and transcriptional activation of activating transcription factor-4 promoted the expression of enzymes involved in amino acid biosynthesis and transport, ultimately providing precursor amino acids for glutathione biosynthesis. Intracellular glutathione levels were increased 1.37-fold in Aldh2*2 Tg hearts compared with wild-type controls. Heterozygous knockout of Atf4 blunted the increase in intracellular glutathione levels in Aldh2*2 Tg hearts, thereby attenuating the oxidative stress-resistant phenotype. Furthermore, glycolysis and NADPH generation via the pentose phosphate pathway were activated in Aldh2*2 Tg hearts. (NADPH is required for the recycling of oxidized glutathione.) CONCLUSIONS:: The findings of the present study indicate that mitochondrial aldehyde stress in the heart induces metabolic remodeling, leading to activation of the glutathione-redox cycle, which confers resistance against acute oxidative stress induced by ischemia/reperfusion.
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