Glycocalyx Disruption Triggers Human Monocyte Activation in Acute Heart Failure Syndromes

Olga G. Grushko, Steven Cho, Ashley M. Tate, Robert S. Rosenson, David J. Pinsky, Jacob M. Haus, Scott L. Hummel, Sascha N. Goonewardena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Acute heart failure (AHF) syndromes manifest increased inflammation and vascular dysfunction; however, mechanisms that integrate the two in AHF remain largely unknown. The glycocalyx (GAC) is a sugar-based shell that envelops all mammalian cells. Much GAC research has focused on its role in vascular responses, with comparatively little known about how the GAC regulates immune cell function. Methods: In this study, we sought to determine if GAC degradation products are elevated in AHF patients, how these degradation products relate to circulating inflammatory mediators, and whether the monocyte GAC (mGAC) itself modulates monocyte activation. Inflammatory markers and GAC degradation products were profiled using ELISAs. Flow cytometry was used to assess the mGAC and RNA-seq was employed to understand the role of the mGAC in regulating inflammatory activation programs. Results: In a cohort of hospitalized AHF patients (n = 17), we found that (1) the GAC degradation product heparan sulfate (HS) was elevated compared with age-matched controls (4396 and 2903 ng/mL; p = 0.01) and that (2) HS and soluble CD14 (a marker of monocyte activation) levels were closely related (Pearson’s r = 0.65; p = 0.002). Mechanistically, Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation of human monocytes results in GAC remodeling and a decrease in the mGAC (71% compared with no treatment; p = 0.0007). Additionally, we found that ex vivo enzymatic removal of HS and disruption of the mGAC triggers human monocyte activation and amplifies monocyte inflammatory responses. Specifically, using RNA-seq, we found that enzymatic degradation of the mGAC increases transcription of inflammatory (IL6, CCL3) and vascular (tissue factor/F3) mediators. Conclusion: These studies indicate that the mGAC is dynamically remodeled during monocyte activation and that mGAC remodeling itself may contribute to the heightened inflammation associated with AHF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-313
Number of pages9
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Glycocalyx
  • Heart failure
  • Inflammation
  • Monocyte
  • Vascular dysfunction


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