Although the etiology of two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are unknown and evidence suggests that chronic intestinal inflammation is caused by an excessive immune response to mucosal antigens. Previous studies support the role for TGF-β1 through 3 in the initiation and maintenance of tolerance via the induction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) to control intestinal inflammation. Leptin, a satiety hormone produced primarily by adipose tissue, has been shown to increase during colitis progression and is believed to contribute to disease genesis and/or progression.
We investigated the ability of a pegylated leptin antagonist (PG-MLA) to ameliorate the development of chronic experimental colitis.
Compared to vehicle control animals, PG-MLA treatment of mice resulted in an (1) attenuated clinical score; (2) reversed colitis-associated pathogenesis including a decrease in body weight; (3) reduced systemic and mucosal inflammatory cytokine expression; (4) increased insulin levels and (5) enhanced systemic and mucosal Tregs and CD39+ Tregs in mice with chronic colitis. The percentage of systemic and mucosal TGF-β1, -β2 and -β3 expressing CD4+ T cells were augmented after PG-MLA treatment. The activation of STAT1 and STAT3 and the expression of Smad7 were also reduced after PG-MLA treatment in the colitic mice. These findings clearly suggest that PG-MLA treatment reduces intestinal Smad7 expression, restores TGF-β1-3 signaling and reduces STAT1/STAT3 activation that may increase the number of Tregs to ameliorate chronic colitis.
This study clearly links inflammation with the metabolic hormone leptin suggesting that nutritional status influences immune tolerance through the induction of functional Tregs. Inhibiting leptin activity through PG-MLA might provide a new and novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of IBD.
Inflammation; Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); Leptin; Antagonist; Pegylated; Ulcerative Colitis (UC); Crohn’s Disease (CD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic relapsing immune-mediated inflammatory disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Leptin is a satiety hormone produced primarily by adipose tissue and acts both centrally and peripherally. Leptin has been shown to play a major role in regulating metabolism, which increases during IBD progression. Leptin mediates several physiological functions including elevated blood pressure, tumorogenesis, cardiovascular pathologies and enhanced immune response in many autoimmune diseases. Recent development of a leptin mutant antagonist that blocks leptin activity raises great hope and opens up new possibilities for therapy in many autoimmune diseases including IBD. To this end, preliminary data from an ongoing study in our laboratory on pegylated leptin antagonist mutant L39A/D40A/F41A (PEG-MLA) treatment shows an inhibition of chronic colitis in IL-10−/− mice. PEG-MLA effectively attenuates the overall clinical scores, reverses colitis-associated pathogenesis including a decrease in body weight, and decreases systemic leptin level. PEG-MLA induces both central and peripheral leptin deficiency by mediating the cellular immune response. In summary, after blocking leptin activity, the correlative outcome between leptin-mediated cellular immune response, systemic leptin levels, and amount of adipose tissue together may provide new strategies for therapeutic intervention in autoimmune diseases, especially for intestinal inflammation.
Crohn’s disease (CD); inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); leptin antagonist; pegylated leptin; ulcerative colitis (UC)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be divided into two major categories, ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn disease (CD). While the main cause(s) of IBD remain unknown, a number of interventional and preventive strategies have been proposed for use against CD and UC. Many reports have focused on the use of alternative natural medicines as potential therapeutic interventions in IBD patients with minimal side effects. While the use of alternative medicines may be effective in IBD patients that are refractory to corticosteroids or thiopurins, alternative treatment strategies are limited and require extensive clinical testing before being optimized for use in patients.
bromelain; Crohn disease (CD); curcumin; inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); polyphenols; pomegranate; resveratrol; rutin; ulcerative colitis (UC)
The current hypothesis of alveolar capillary membrane dysfunction fails to completely explain the severe and persistent leak of protein-rich fluid into the pulmonary interstitium, seen in the exudative phase of acute lung injury (ALI). The presence of intact red blood cells in the pulmonary interstitium may suggest mechanical failure of pulmonary arterioles and venules. These studies involved the pathological and ultrastructural evaluation of the pulmonary vasculature in Staphylococcal enterotoxin B(SEB)-induced ALI. Administration of SEB resulted in a significant increase in the protein concentration of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and vascular leak in SEB-exposed mice compared to vehicle-treated mice. In vivo imaging of mice demonstrated the pulmonary edema and leakage in the lungs of SEB-administered mice. The histopathological studies showed intense clustering of inflammatory cells around the alveolar capillaries with subtle changes in architecture. Electron microscopy studies further confirmed the diffuse damage and disruption in the muscularis layer of the terminal vessels. Cell death in the endothelial cells of the terminal vessels was confirmed with TUNEL staining. In this study, we demonstrated that in addition to failure of the alveolar capillary membrane, disruption of the pulmonary arterioles and venules may explain the persistent and severe interstitial and alveolar edema.
electron microscopy; pulmonary vascular leak; acute respiratory distress syndrome; acute lung injury
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intestinal inflammation caused by hyperactivated effector immune cells that produce pro-inflammatory cytokines. Recent studies have shown that the cannabinoid system may play a critical role in mediating protection against intestinal inflammation. However, the effect of cannabinoid receptors induction after chronic colitis progression has not been investigated. Here, we investigate the effect of cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB2) agonist, JWH-133, after chronic colitis in IL-10−/− mice. JWH-133 effectively attenuated the overall clinical score, reversed colitis-associated pathogenesis and decrease in body weight in IL-10−/− mice. After JWH-133 treatment, the percentage of CD4+ T cells, neutrophils, mast cells, natural killer (NK1.1) cells, and activated T cells in the LP of colitis mice declined after JWH-133 treatment in the intestinal lamina propria (LP) and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN). JWH-133 was also effective in ameliorating dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced colitis. In this model, JWH-133 reduced the number and percentage of macrophages and IFN-γ expressing cells that were induced during colitis progression. Treatment with aminoalkylindole 6-iodopravadoline (AM630), a CB2 receptor antagonist, reversed the colitis protection provided by JWH-133 treatment. Also, activated T cells were found to undergo apoptosis following JWH-133 treatment both in-vivo and in-vitro. These findings suggest that JWH-133 mediates its effect through CB2 receptors, and ameliorates chronic colitis by inducing apoptosis in activated T cells, reducing the numbers of activated T cells, suppressing induction of mast cells, NK cells, and neutrophils at sites of inflammation in the LP. These results support the idea that the CB2 receptor agonists may serve as a therapeutic modality against IBD.
Cannabinoid-2 receptors; JWH 133; Colitis; inflammatory bowel disease
One percent of infants are born with congenital heart disease (CHD), which commonly involves outflow tract (OFT) defects. These infants often require complex surgeries, which are associated with long term adverse remodeling effects, and receive replacement valves with limited strength, biocompatibility, and growth capability. To address these problematic issues, researchers have carried out investigations in valve development and valve mechanics. A longstanding hypothesis is that flow-induced forces regulate fibrous valve development, however, the specific mechanisms behind this mechanotransduction remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to implement an in vitro system of outflow tract development to test the response of embryonic OFT tissues to fluid flow. A dynamic, three-dimensional bioreactor system was used to culture embryonic OFT tissue under different levels of flow as well as the absence of flow. In the absence of flow, OFT tissues took on a more primitive phenotype that is characteristic of early OFT cushion development where widely dispersed mesenchymal cells are surrounded by a sparse, disorganized extracellular matrix (ECM). Whereas OFT tissues subjected to physiologically matched flow formed compact mounds of cells, initated, fibrous ECM development, while prolonged supraphysiological flow resulted in abnormal tissue remodeling. This study indicates that both the timing and magnitude of flow alter cellular processes that determine if OFT precursor tissue undergoes normal or pathological development. Specifically, these experiments showed that flow-generated forces regulate the deposition and localization of fibrous ECM proteins, indicating that mechanosensitive signaling pathways are capable of driving pathological OFT development if flows are not ideal.
outflow tract; bioreactor; mechanotransduction; fibrotic development; hemodynamics
Extracellular matrix (ECM) plays essential signaling and structural roles required for the proper function of cardiac valves. Cardiac valves initially form as jelly-like cushions, which must adapt to withstand the increased circulation hemodynamics associated with fetal development and birth. This increased biomechanical stability of the developing valves is largely imparted by ECM proteins, which form a highly organized fibrous meshwork. Since heart valve defects contribute to most congenital heart diseases, understanding valve development will provide insight into the pathogenesis of various congenital valve anomalies. Thus, the goal of this study is to describe the spatiotemporal deposition of fibrous ECM proteins during cardiac valve development. Chick embryonic and fetal atrioventricular and semilunar valves were examined by light, confocal, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Our data demonstrate that fibrous ECM proteins are deposited when the leaflets are adopting an elongated and compacted phenotype. A general pattern of increased fibrotic ECM deposition was detected in valve tissues. Also, each ECM protein examined displayed a unique pattern of organization, suggesting that regulation of fibrous protein deposition is complex and likely involves both genetic and mechanical factors. In addition, the TEM study revealed the presence of membrane protrusions from valvular endocardium, indicating a potential mechanism for mechanical force transduction.
cardiac valve development; spatiotemporal expression; collagen; tenascin; valve morphology; annulus fibrosus; membrane protrusion
Glioma is the most common and believed to be one of the most aggressive tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) in humans. Very little information is available on the etiology and pathogenesis of these tumors to date. A significant gap remains in our current understanding of the molecular pathways involved in the genesis, progression and clinical behavior of these tumors. Recently, several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been identified in cytokine gene sequences, particularly within the promoter region of these genes, and have been shown to be associated with the development of different types of brain tumors. The present study investigates the association of C-33T SNP in the interleukin-4 (IL-4) gene with systemic IL-4 level and the S503P SNP in the IL-4R gene with the incidence of glioma.
Blood samples were collected from 100 histologically confirmed adult patients with glioma, and 30 apparently healthy individuals from the same area. DNA was extracted from each blood sample, and the IL-4 and IL-4R genes were amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with gene-specific primers. Systemic IL-4 concentration was assessed in serum samples from each participant by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We observed a negative association between the homozygous genotype (CC) of the SNP C-33T of the IL-4 gene with the incidence of glioma (OR=0.19, 95% CI=0.035-1.02), while the T allele of the SNP demonstrated a significant protective association against glioma. Similarly, the heterozygous (CT) and homozygous mutant (CC) of the SNP S503P of the IL-4R gene demonstrated a significant association with glioma development (OR=0.405, 95% CI=0.17-0.969 and OR=0.147, 95% CI=0.036-0.6 respectively), while the C allele exhibited a highly significant association with protection from glioma formation.
These findings suggest that the T allele of the SNP C-33T in the IL-4 gene and the C allele of the SNP S503P in IL-4R may have a protective role against glioma development.
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs); interleukin-4; interleukin-4R; brain tumor; and Glioma
Interstitial cystitis (IC), more recently called painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is a complex disease associated with chronic bladder inflammation that primarily affects women. Its symptoms include frequent urinary urgency accompanied by discomfort or pain in the bladder and lower abdomen. In the United States, eight million people, mostly women, have IC/PBS. New evidence that autoimmune mechanisms are important in the pathogenesis of IC/PBS triggered interest.
SWXJ mice immunized with a homogenate of similar mice’s urinary bladders develop an autoimmune phenotype comparable to clinical IC with functional and histological alterations confined to the urinary bladder. Using the murine model of experimental autoimmune cystitis (EAC), we found that serum levels of CXCR3 ligand and local T helper type 1 (Th1) cytokine are elevated. Also, IFN-γ-inducible protein10 (CXCL10) blockade attenuated overall cystitis severity scores; reversed the development of IC; decreased local production of CXCR3 and its ligands, IFN-γ, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α); and lowered systemic levels of CXCR3 ligands. Urinary bladder CD4+ T cells, mast cells, and neutrophils infiltrates were reduced following anti-CXCL10 antibody (Ab) treatment of mice. Anti-CXCL10 Ab treatment also reversed the upregulated level of CXCR3 ligand mRNA at urinary bladder sites. The decreased number and percentage of systemic CD4+ T cells in EAC mice returned to normal after anti-CXCL10 Ab treatment.
Taken together, our findings provide important new information about the mechanisms underlying EAC pathogenesis, which has symptoms similar to those of IC/PBS. CXCL10 has the potential for use in developing new therapy for IC/PBS.
Background & Aims
During tumorigenesis, loss of rapid messenger RNA (mRNA) decay allows for overexpression of cancer-associated genes. The RNA-binding proteins Hu antigen R (HuR) and tristetraprolin (TTP) bind AU-rich elements in the 3′ untranslated region of many cancer-associated mRNAs and target them for stabilization or rapid decay, respectively. We examined the functions of HuR and TTP during colon tumorigenesis and their ability to regulate cyclooxygenase (COX-2), a mediator of prostaglandin synthesis that increases in the colon tumor microenvironment.
We evaluated expression of HuR and TTP during colorectal tumorigenesis and in colon cancer cells and associated them with COX-2 expression. HuR and TTP-inducible cells were created to investigate HuR- and TTP-mediated regulation of COX-2.
In normal colon tissues, low levels of nuclear HuR and higher levels of TTP were observed. By contrast, increased HuR expression and cytoplasmic localization were observed in 76% of adenomas and 94% of adenocarcinomas, and TTP expression was lost in >75% of adenomas and adenocarcinomas. Similar results were obtained for HuR and TTP mRNA levels in normal and staged tumor samples. In both adenomas and adenocarcinomas, COX-2 overexpression was associated with increased HuR and decreased TTP (P < .0001); similar associations were observed in colon cancer cells. HuR overexpression in cells up-regulated COX-2 expression, whereas overexpression of TTP inhibited it; limited TTP expression antagonized HuR-mediated COX-2 overexpression.
Increased expression of the mRNA stability factor HuR and loss of the decay factor TTP occurs during early stages of colorectal tumorigenesis. These changes promote COX-2 overexpression and could contribute to colon tumorigenesis.
Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol has received significant attention as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intestinal inflammation caused by hyperactivated effector immune cells that produce pro-inflammatory cytokines. Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a heterogeneous population characterized by the co-expression of CD11b+ and Gr-1+ and have long been known for their immunosuppressive function. We report that resveratrol effectively attenuated overall clinical scores as well as various pathological markers of colitis in IL-10−/− mice by down regulating Th1 responses. Resveratrol lessened the colitis-associated decrease in body weight and increased levels of serum amyloid A (SAA), CXCL10 and colon TNF-α, IL-6, RANTES, IL-12 and IL-1β concentrations. After resveratrol treatment, the percentage of CXCR3 expressing T cells was decreased in the spleen, mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), and intestinal lamina propria (LP). However, the percentage and absolute numbers of CD11b+ and Gr-1+cells in the lamina propria (LP) and spleen were increased after resveratrol treatment as compared with the vehicle treatment. Co-culture of resveratrol induced CD11b+ Gr-1+ cells with T cells, attenuated T cell proliferation, and most importantly reduced IFN-γ and GM-CSF production by LP derived T cells from vehicle treated IL-10−/− mice with chronic colitis. The current study suggests that administration of resveratrol into IL-10−/− mice induces immunosuppressive CD11b+ Gr-1+ MDSCs in the colon, which correlates with reversal of established chronic colitis, and down regulation of mucosal and systemic CXCR3+ expressing effector T cells as well as inflammatory cytokines in the colon. The induction of immunosuppressive CD11b+ Gr-1+ cells by resveratrol during colitis is unique, and suggests an as-yet-unidentified mode of anti-inflammatory action of this plant polyphenol.
Inflammation; Resveratrol; Colitis; CXCR3; CD11b+ and Gr-1+ and MDSCs
Muscle protein turnover regulation during cancer cachexia is being rapidly defined, and skeletal muscle mitochondria function appears coupled to processes regulating muscle wasting. Skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and the expression of proteins regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics are disrupted in severely cachectic ApcMin/+ mice. It has not been determined if these changes occur at the onset of cachexia and are necessary for the progression of muscle wasting. Exercise and anti-cytokine therapies have proven effective in preventing cachexia development in tumor bearing mice, while their effect on mitochondrial content, biogenesis and dynamics is not well understood. The purposes of this study were to 1) determine IL-6 regulation on mitochondrial remodeling/dysfunction during the progression of cancer cachexia and 2) to determine if exercise training can attenuate mitochondrial dysfunction and the induction of proteolytic pathways during IL-6 induced cancer cachexia.
ApcMin/+ mice were examined during the progression of cachexia, after systemic interleukin (IL)-6r antibody treatment, or after IL-6 over-expression with or without exercise. Direct effects of IL-6 on mitochondrial remodeling were examined in cultured C2C12 myoblasts.
Mitochondrial content was not reduced during the initial development of cachexia, while muscle PGC-1α and fusion (Mfn1, Mfn2) protein expression was repressed. With progressive weight loss mitochondrial content decreased, PGC-1α and fusion proteins were further suppressed, and fission protein (FIS1) was induced. IL-6 receptor antibody administration after the onset of cachexia improved mitochondrial content, PGC-1α, Mfn1/Mfn2 and FIS1 protein expression. IL-6 over-expression in pre-cachectic mice accelerated body weight loss and muscle wasting, without reducing mitochondrial content, while PGC-1α and Mfn1/Mfn2 protein expression was suppressed and FIS1 protein expression induced. Exercise normalized these IL-6 induced effects. C2C12 myotubes administered IL-6 had increased FIS1 protein expression, increased oxidative stress, and reduced PGC-1α gene expression without altered mitochondrial protein expression.
Altered expression of proteins regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and fusion are early events in the initiation of cachexia regulated by IL-6, which precede the loss of muscle mitochondrial content. Furthermore, IL-6 induced mitochondrial remodeling and proteolysis can be rescued with moderate exercise training even in the presence of high circulating IL-6 levels.
FIS1; PGC-1α; Exercise; IL-6r; MFN1; Cachexia; Mitochondria; Muscle; Autophagy
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a transcription factor of the bHLH/PAS family, is well characterized to regulate the biochemical and toxic effects of environmental chemicals. More recently, AhR activation has been shown to regulate the differentiation of Foxp3+ Tregs as well as Th17 cells. However, the precise mechanisms are unclear. In the current study, we investigated the effect of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a potent AhR ligand, on epigenetic regulation leading to altered Treg/Th17 differentiation, and consequent suppression of colitis.
Dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) administration induced acute colitis in C57BL/6 mice, as shown by significant weight loss, shortening of colon, mucosal ulceration, and increased presence of CXCR3+ T cells as well as inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, a single dose of TCDD (25 µg/kg body weight) was able to attenuate all of the clinical and inflammatory markers of colitis. Analysis of T cells in the lamina propria (LP) and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), during colitis, revealed decreased presence of Tregs and increased induction of Th17 cells, which was reversed following TCDD treatment. Activation of T cells from AhR+/+ but not AhR -/- mice, in the presence of TCDD, promoted increased differentiation of Tregs while inhibiting Th17 cells. Analysis of MLN or LP cells during colitis revealed increased methylation of CpG islands of Foxp3 and demethylation of IL-17 promoters, which was reversed following TCDD treatment.
These studies demonstrate for the first time that AhR activation promotes epigenetic regulation thereby influencing reciprocal differentiation of Tregs and Th17 cells, and amelioration of inflammation.
Ulcerative colitis is a dynamic, chronic inflammatory condition of the colon associated with an increased colon cancer risk. Ginkgo biloba is a putative antioxidant and has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. The aim of this study was to test whether the standardized G.biloba extract, EGb 761, is an antioxidant that can be used to prevent and treat colitis in mice. Here, we show that EGb 761 suppresses the activation of macrophages and can be used to both prevent and treat mouse colitis. Markers of inflammation (iNOS, Cox-2 and tumor necrosis factor-α) and inflammatory stress (p53 and p53-phospho-serine 15) are also downregulated by EGb 761. Furthermore, we show that EGb 761 reduces the numbers of CD4+/CD25−/Foxp3− effector T cells in the colon. Interestingly, EGb 761 drives CD4+ effector T cell apoptosis in vitro and in vivo, providing a mechanistic explanation to the reduction in numbers of this cell type in the colon. This current study is in agreement with previous studies supporting a use of EGb 761 as a complementary and alternative strategy to abate colitis and associated colon cancer.
To describe the ultrastructure of spermatozoa from a patient with complete asthenozoospermia that resulted in live births following blastocyst culture.
Materials and methods
Analyses of spermatozoa from a 36 year old patient were performed using light and electron microscopy. The hypo-osmotic swelling test was used to select spermatozoa for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Embryos were cultured to the blastocyst stage.
100% of the spermatozoa had dynein arm deficiency with secondary defects varying from 3–17%. Six oocytes were injected; five fertilized normally and one was digynic. All five zygotes formed good quality blastocysts. Three blastocysts were cryopreserved and two blastocysts were transferred. Twin females were born at 37 weeks.
The hypo-osmotic swelling test can be used to select viable immotile ejaculated spermatozoa from a patient with dynein arm deficiency and can produce excellent fertilization rates and blastocyst development resulting in live births.
Blastocyst culture; Dynein arm deficiency; Hypo-osmotic swelling test; Primarily ciliary dyskinesia; Sperm ultrastructure
In this study, we investigated cardiomyocyte cytoarchitecture in a mouse model for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the muscle LIM protein (MLP) knockout mouse and substantiated several observations in a second DCM model, the tropomodulin-overexpressing transgenic (TOT) mouse. Freshly isolated cardiomyocytes from both strains are characterized by a more irregular shape compared with wild-type cells. Alterations are observed at the intercalated disks, the specialized areas of mechanical coupling between cardiomyocytes, whereas the subcellular organization of contractile proteins in the sarcomeres of MLP knockout mice appears unchanged. Distinct parts of the intercalated disks are affected differently. Components from the adherens junctions are upregulated, desmosomal proteins are unchanged, and gap junction proteins are downregulated. In addition, the expression of N-RAP, a LIM domain– containing protein located at the intercalated disks, is upregulated in MLP knockout as well as in TOT mice. Detailed analysis of intercalated disk composition during postnatal development reveals that an upregulation of N-RAP expression might serve as an early marker for the development of DCM. Altered expression levels of cytoskeletal proteins (either the lack of MLP or an increased expression of tropomodulin) apparently lead to impaired function of the myofibrillar apparatus and to physiological stress that ultimately results in DCM and is accompanied by an altered appearance and composition of the intercalated disks.
dilated cardiomyopathy; N-RAP; tropomodulin; adherens junction; gap junction
The ras family of small GTP-binding proteins exerts powerful effects upon cell structure and function. One member of this family, rac, induces actin cytoskeletal reorganization in nonmuscle cells and hypertrophic changes in cultured cardiomyocytes. To examine the effect of rac1 activation upon cardiac structure and function, transgenic mice were created that express constitutively activated rac1 specifically in the myocardium. Transgenic rac1 protein was expressed at levels comparable to endogenous rac levels, with activation of the rac1 signaling pathway resulting in two distinct cardiomyopathic phenotypes: a lethal dilated phenotype associated with neonatal activation of the transgene and a transient cardiac hypertrophy seen among juvenile mice that resolved with age. Neither phenotype showed myofibril disarray and hypertrophic hearts were hypercontractilein working heart analyses. The rac1 target p21-activated kinase translocated from a cytosolic to a cytoskeletal distribution, suggesting that rac1 activation was inducing focal adhesion reorganization. Corroborating results showed altered localizations of src in dilated cardiomyopathy and paxillin in both cardiomyopathic phenotypes. This study, the first examination of rac1-mediated cardiac effects in vivo, demonstrates that dilation and hypertrophy can share a common molecular origin and presents evidence that both timing and concurrent signaling from multiple pathways can influence cardiac remodeling.