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1.  Alternatively Spliced Tissue Factor Is Not Sufficient for Embryonic Development 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97793.
Tissue factor (TF) triggers blood coagulation and is translated from two mRNA splice isoforms, encoding membrane-anchored full-length TF (flTF) and soluble alternatively-spliced TF (asTF). The complete knockout of TF in mice causes embryonic lethality associated with failure of the yolk sac vasculature. Although asTF plays roles in postnatal angiogenesis, it is unknown whether it activates coagulation sufficiently or makes previously unrecognized contributions to sustaining integrity of embryonic yolk sac vessels. Using gene knock-in into the mouse TF locus, homozygous asTF knock-in (asTFKI) mice, which express murine asTF in the absence of flTF, exhibited embryonic lethality between day 9.5 and 10.5. Day 9.5 homozygous asTFKI embryos expressed asTF protein, but no procoagulant activity was detectable in a plasma clotting assay. Although the α-smooth-muscle-actin positive mesodermal layer as well as blood islands developed similarly in day 8.5 wild-type or homozygous asTFKI embryos, erythrocytes were progressively lost from disintegrating yolk sac vessels of asTFKI embryos by day 10.5. These data show that in the absence of flTF, asTF expressed during embryonic development has no measurable procoagulant activity, does not support embryonic vessel stability by non-coagulant mechanisms, and fails to maintain a functional vasculature and embryonic survival.
PMCID: PMC4039448  PMID: 24879059
2.  Inhibition of Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase Reduces Neutrophil-Mediated Injury in Myocardial Infarction 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(6):630-641.
Aims: Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt) is a key enzyme for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis, and recent evidence indicates its role in inflammatory processes. Here, we investigated the potential effects of pharmacological Nampt inhibition with FK866 in a mouse myocardial ischemia/reperfusion model. In vivo and ex vivo mouse myocardial ischemia/reperfusion procedures were performed. Results: Treatment with FK866 reduced myocardial infarct size, neutrophil infiltration, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation within infarcted hearts in vivo in a mouse model of ischemia and reperfusion. The benefit of FK866 was not shown in the Langendorff model (ex vivo model of working heart without circulating leukocytes), suggesting a direct involvement of these cells in cardiac injury. Sera from FK866-treated mice showed reduced circulating levels of the neutrophil chemoattractant CXCL2 and impaired capacity to prime migration of these cells in vitro. The release of CXCL8 (human homolog of murine chemokine CXCL2) by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and Jurkat cells was also reduced by FK866, as well as by sirtuin (SIRT) inhibitors and SIRT6 silencing, implying a pivotal role for this NAD+-dependent deacetylase in the production of this chemokine. Innovation: The pharmacological inhibition of Nampt might represent an effective approach to reduce neutrophilic inflammation- and oxidative stress-mediated tissue damage in early phases of reperfusion after a myocardial infarction. Conclusions: Nampt inhibition appears as a new strategy to dampen CXCL2-induced neutrophil recruitment and thereby reduce neutrophil-mediated tissue injury in mice. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 630–641.
PMCID: PMC3549207  PMID: 22452634
3.  Deletion of Sirt3 does not affect atherosclerosis but accelerates weight gain and impairs rapid metabolic adaptation in LDL receptor knockout mice: implications for cardiovascular risk factor development 
Sirt3 is a mitochondrial NAD+-dependent deacetylase that governs mitochondrial metabolism and reactive oxygen species homeostasis. Sirt3 deficiency has been reported to accelerate the development of the metabolic syndrome. However, the role of Sirt3 in atherosclerosis remains enigmatic. We aimed to investigate whether Sirt3 deficiency affects atherosclerosis, plaque vulnerability, and metabolic homeostasis. Low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (LDLR−/−) and LDLR/Sirt3 double-knockout (Sirt3−/−LDLR−/−) mice were fed a high-cholesterol diet (1.25 % w/w) for 12 weeks. Atherosclerosis was assessed en face in thoraco-abdominal aortae and in cross sections of aortic roots. Sirt3 deletion led to hepatic mitochondrial protein hyperacetylation. Unexpectedly, though plasma malondialdehyde levels were elevated in Sirt3-deficient mice, Sirt3 deletion affected neither plaque burden nor features of plaque vulnerability (i.e., fibrous cap thickness and necrotic core diameter). Likewise, plaque macrophage and T cell infiltration as well as endothelial activation remained unaltered. Electron microscopy of aortic walls revealed no difference in mitochondrial microarchitecture between both groups. Interestingly, loss of Sirt3 was associated with accelerated weight gain and an impaired capacity to cope with rapid changes in nutrient supply as assessed by indirect calorimetry. Serum lipid levels and glucose tolerance were unaffected by Sirt3 deletion in LDLR−/− mice. Sirt3 deficiency does not affect atherosclerosis in LDLR−/− mice. However, Sirt3 controls systemic levels of oxidative stress, limits expedited weight gain, and allows rapid metabolic adaptation. Thus, Sirt3 may contribute to postponing cardiovascular risk factor development.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-013-0399-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3898152  PMID: 24370889
SIRTUIN 3; Atherosclerosis; Metabolism; Oxidative stress
4.  A Novel Electrocardiographic Index for the Diagnosis of Diastolic Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79152.
Although the assessment of diastolic dysfunction (DD) is an integral part of routine cardiologic examinations, little is known about associated electrocardiographic (ECG) changes. Our aim was to investigate a potential role of ECG indices for the recognition of patients with DD.
Methods and Results
ECG parameters correlating with echocardiographic findings of DD were retrospectively assessed in a derivation group of 172 individuals (83 controls with normal diastolic function, 89 patients with DD) and their diagnostic performance was tested in a validation group of 50 controls and 50 patients. The patient group with a DD Grade 1 and 2 showed longer QTc (422±24ms and 434±32ms vs. 409±25ms, p<0.0005) and shorter Tend–P and Tend–Q intervals, reflecting the electrical and mechanical diastole (240±78ms and 276±108ms vs. 373±110ms, p<0.0001; 409±85ms and 447±115ms vs. 526±119ms, p<0.0001). The PQ–interval was significantly longer in the patient group (169±28ms and 171±38ms vs. 153±22ms, p<0.005). After adjusting for possible confounders, a novel index (Tend–P/[PQxAge]) showed a high performance for the recognition of DD, stayed robust in the validation group (sensitivity 82%, specificity 93%, positive predictive value 93%, negative predictive value 82%, accuracy 88%) and proved a substantial added value when combined with the indexed left atrial volume (LAESVI, sensitivity 90%, specificity 92%, positive predictive value 95%, negative predictive value 86%, accuracy 91%).
A novel electrocardiographic index Tend–P/(PQxAge) demonstrates a high diagnostic accuracy for the diagnosis of DD and yields a substantial added value when combined with the LAESVI.
PMCID: PMC3818461  PMID: 24223898
5.  Welcome to the ESC journal family 
PMCID: PMC3760551  PMID: 24062882
6.  A signature of circulating microRNAs differentiates takotsubo cardiomyopathy from acute myocardial infarction 
European Heart Journal  2013;35(15):999-1006.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC) remains a potentially life-threatening disease, which is clinically indistinguishable from acute myocardial infarction (MI). Today, no established biomarkers are available for the early diagnosis of TTC and differentiation from MI. MicroRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) emerge as promising sensitive and specific biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. Thus, we sought to identify circulating miRNAs suitable for diagnosis of acute TTC and for distinguishing TTC from acute MI.
Methods and results
After miRNA profiling, eight miRNAs were selected for verification by real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in patients with TTC (n = 36), ST-segment elevation acute myocardial infarction (STEMI, n = 27), and healthy controls (n = 28). We quantitatively confirmed up-regulation of miR-16 and miR-26a in patients with TTC compared with healthy subjects (both, P < 0.001), and up-regulation of miR-16, miR-26a, and let-7f compared with STEMI patients (P < 0.0001, P < 0.05, and P < 0.05, respectively). Consistent with previous publications, cardiac specific miR-1 and miR-133a were up-regulated in STEMI patients compared with healthy controls (both, P < 0.0001). Moreover, miR-133a was substantially increased in patients with STEMI compared with TTC (P < 0.05). A unique signature comprising miR-1, miR-16, miR-26a, and miR-133a differentiated TTC from healthy subjects [area under the curve (AUC) 0.835, 95% CI 0.733–0.937, P < 0.0001] and from STEMI patients (AUC 0.881, 95% CI 0.793–0.968, P < 0.0001). This signature yielded a sensitivity of 74.19% and a specificity of 78.57% for TTC vs. healthy subjects, and a sensitivity of 96.77% and a specificity of 70.37% for TTC vs. STEMI patients. Additionally, we noticed a decrease of the endothelin-1 (ET-1)-regulating miRNA-125a-5p in parallel with a robust increase of ET-1 plasma levels in TTC compared with healthy subjects (P < 0.05).
The present study for the first time describes a signature of four circulating miRNAs as a robust biomarker to distinguish TTC from STEMI patients. The significant up-regulation of these stress- and depression-related miRNAs suggests a close connection of TTC with neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, decreased levels of miRNA125a-5p as well as increased plasma levels of its target ET-1 are in line with the microvascular spasm hypothesis of the TTC pathomechanism.
PMCID: PMC3985061  PMID: 24046434
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy; Biomarker; Endothelin-1; MicroRNA
7.  The Assessment of Endothelial Function – From Research into Clinical Practice 
Circulation  2012;126(6):753-767.
The discovery of the endothelium as a crucial organ for the regulation of the vasculature to physiological needs and the recognition of endothelial dysfunction as a key pathological condition - which is associated with most if not all cardiovascular risk factors - led to a tremendous boost of endothelial research in the past 3 decades. Despite the possibility to measure endothelial function in the individual and its widespread use in research, its use as a clinical tool in daily medicine is not established yet. We review the most common methods to assess vascular function in humans and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore we give an overview about clinical settings were endothelial function measurements may be valuable in individual patients. Specifically, we provide information why endothelial function is not only a risk marker for cardiovascular risk but may also provides prognostic information beyond commonly used risk scores in primary prevention, and in patients with already established coronary disease.
We conclude, that non-invasive endothelial function measurements provide valuable additional information, however, to ascertain its use for daily clinical practice, future research should determine whether endothelial function can be used to guide treatment in the individual and if this translates into better outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3427943  PMID: 22869857
endothelial function; risk factors; atherosclerosis
8.  Intravenous ferric carboxymaltose in iron-deficient chronic heart failure patients with and without anaemia: a subanalysis of the FAIR-HF trial 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(11):1267-1276.
Therapy with i.v. iron in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) and iron deficiency (ID) improves symptoms, functional capacity, and quality of life. We sought to investigate whether these beneficial outcomes are independent of anaemia.
Methods and results
FAIR-HF randomized 459 patients with CHF [NYHA class II or III, LVEF ≤40% (NYHA II) or ≤45% (NYHA III)] and ID to i.v. iron as ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) or placebo in a 2:1 ratio. We analysed the efficacy and safety according to the presence or absence of anaemia (haemoglobin ≤120 g/L) at baseline. Of 459 patients, 232 had anaemia at baseline (51%). The effect of FCM on the primary endpoints of self-reported Patient Global Assessment (PGA) and NYHA class at week 24 was similar in patients with and without anaemia [odds ratio (OR) for improvement, 2.48 vs. 2.60, P = 0.97 for PGA and 1.90 vs. 3.39, P = 0.51 for NYHA). Results were also similar for the secondary endpoints, including PGA and NYHA at weeks 4 and 12, 6 min walk test distance, Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire overall score, and European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions Visual Analogue Scale at most time points. Regarding safety, no differences were noticed in the rates of death or first hospitalization between FCM and placebo both in anaemic and in non-anaemic patients.
Treatment of ID with FCM in patients with CHF is equally efficacious and shows a similar favourable safety profile irrespective of anaemia. Iron status should be assessed in symptomatic CHF patients both with and without anaemia and treatment of ID should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3806282  PMID: 23787722
Anaemia; Iron deficiency; Heart failure; Intravenous iron; Ferric carboxymaltose
9.  Vascular lesions induced by renal nerve ablation as assessed by optical coherence tomography: pre- and post-procedural comparison with the Simplicity® catheter system and the EnligHTN™ multi-electrode renal denervation catheter 
European Heart Journal  2013;34(28):2141-2148.
Catheter-based renal nerve ablation (RNA) using radiofrequency energy is a novel treatment for drug-resistant essential hypertension. However, the local endothelial and vascular injury induced by RNA has not been characterized, although this importantly determines the long-term safety of the procedure. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) enables in vivo visualization of morphologic features with a high resolution of 10–15 µm. The objective of this study was to assess the morphological features of the endothelial and vascular injury induced by RNA using OCT.
Methods and results
In a prospective observational study, 32 renal arteries of patients with treatment-resistant hypertension underwent OCT before and after RNA. All pre- and post-procedural OCT pullbacks were evaluated regarding vascular changes such as vasospasm, oedema (notches), dissection, and thrombus formation. Thirty-two renal arteries were evaluated, in which automatic pullbacks were obtained before and after RNA. Vasospasm was observed more often after RNA then before the procedure (0 vs. 42%, P < 0.001). A significant decrease in mean renal artery diameter after RNA was documented both with the EnligHTN™ (4.69 ± 0.73 vs. 4.21 ± 0.87 mm; P < 0.001) and with the Simplicity® catheter (5.04 ± 0.66 vs. 4.57 ± 0.88 mm; P < 0.001). Endothelial-intimal oedema was noted in 96% of cases after RNA. The presence of thrombus formations was significantly higher after the RNA then before ablation (67 vs. 18%, P < 0.001). There was one evidence of arterial dissection after RNA with the Simplicity® catheter, while endothelial and intimal disruptions were noted in two patients with the EnligHTN™ catheter.
Here we show that diffuse renal artery constriction and local tissue damage at the ablation site with oedema and thrombus formation occur after RNA and that OCT visualizes vascular lesions not apparent on angiography. This suggests that dual antiplatelet therapy may be required during RNA.
PMCID: PMC3717310  PMID: 23620498
Optical coherence tomography; Catheter-based renal nerve ablation; Vascular lesions; Simplicity catheter system; EnligHTN multi-electrode renal denervation catheter
10.  Endothelial mineralocorticoid receptor activation mediates endothelial dysfunction in diet-induced obesity 
European Heart Journal  2013;34(45):3515-3524.
Received 22 July 2012; revised 29 January 2013; accepted 4 March 2013
Aldosterone plays a crucial role in cardiovascular disease. ‘Systemic’ inhibition of its mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) decreases atherosclerosis by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Obesity, an important cardiovascular risk factor, is an inflammatory disease associated with increased plasma aldosterone levels. We have investigated the role of the ‘endothelial’ MR in obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction, the earliest stage in atherogenesis.
Methods and results
C57BL/6 mice were exposed to a normal chow diet (ND) or a high-fat diet (HFD) alone or in combination with the MR antagonist eplerenone (200 mg/kg/day) for 14 weeks. Diet-induced obesity impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in response to acetylcholine, whereas eplerenone treatment of obese mice prevented this. Expression analyses in aortic endothelial cells isolated from these mice revealed that eplerenone attenuated expression of pro-oxidative NADPH oxidase (subunits p22phox, p40phox) and increased expression of antioxidative genes (glutathione peroxidase-1, superoxide dismutase-1 and -3) in obesity. Eplerenone did not affect obesity-induced upregulation of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 or prostacyclin synthase. Endothelial-specific MR deletion prevented endothelial dysfunction in obese (exhibiting high ‘endogenous’ aldosterone) and in ‘exogenous’ aldosterone-infused lean mice. Pre-incubation of aortic rings from aldosterone-treated animals with the COX-inhibitor indomethacin restored endothelial function. Exogenous aldosterone administration induced endothelial expression of p22phox in the presence, but not in the absence of the endothelial MR.
Obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction depends on the ‘endothelial’ MR and is mediated by an imbalance of oxidative stress-modulating mechanisms. Therefore, MR antagonists may represent an attractive therapeutic strategy in the increasing population of obese patients to decrease vascular dysfunction and subsequent atherosclerotic complications.
PMCID: PMC3844149  PMID: 23594590
Obesity; Endothelial; Aldosterone; Mineralocorticoid receptor
11.  Vascular effects and safety of dalcetrapib in patients with or at risk of coronary heart disease: the dal-VESSEL randomized clinical trial 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(7):857-865.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is inversely associated with cardiovascular (CV) events and thus an attractive therapeutic target. However, in spite of marked elevations in HDL-C, the first cholesterol transport protein (CETP) inhibitor torcetrapib raised blood pressure (BP), impaired endothelial function, and increased CV mortality and morbidity. Dalcetrapib is a novel molecule acting on CETP with a different chemical structure to torcetrapib. As HDL stimulates nitric oxide (NO), suppresses inflammation, and exerts protective CV effects, we investigated the effects of dalcetrapib on endothelial function, blood pressure, inflammatory markers, and lipids in patients with, or at risk of, coronary heart disease (CHD) in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial ( number NCT00655538).
Methods and results
Patients with target low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels received dalcetrapib 600 mg/day or placebo for 36 weeks on top of standard therapy (including statins). The primary outcome measures were the change from baseline of flow-mediated dilatation (%FMD) of the right brachial artery after 5 min of cuff occlusion at 12 weeks and the 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) at week 4. Secondary outcomes included change from baseline in FMD after 36 weeks and the change in ABPM at 12 and 36 weeks, changes in HDL-C, LDL-C, triglycerides, CETP activity, as well as standard safety parameters. Four hundred seventy-six patients were randomized. Baseline FMD was 4.1 ± 2.2 and 4.0 ± 2.4% with placebo or dalcetrapib, respectively and did not change significantly from placebo after 12 and 36 weeks (P = 0.1764 and 0.9515, respectively). After 4, 24, and 36 weeks of treatment with dalcetrapib, CETP activity decreased by 51, 53, and 56% (placebo corrected, all P < 0.0001), while at weeks 4, 12, and 36 HDL-C increased by 25, 27, and 31% (placebo corrected, all P < 0.0001). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels did not change. At baseline, ABPM was 125 ± 12/74 ± 8mmHg in the placebo and 128 ± 11/75 ± 7mmHg in the dalcetrapib group (P = 0.3372 and 0.1248, respectively, placebo-corrected change from baseline) and did not change for up to 36 weeks. Biomarkers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and coagulation did not change during follow-up except for Lp-PLA2 mass levels which increased by 17% (placebo corrected). Overall 7 patients given dalcetrapib and 8 patients given placebo experienced at least one pre-specified adjudicated event (11 events with dalcetrapib and 12 events with placebo).
The dal-VESSEL trial has established the tolerability and safety of CETP-inhibition with dalcetrapib in patients with or at risk of CHD. Dalcetrapib reduced CETP activity and increased HDL-C levels without affecting NO-dependent endothelial function, blood pressure, or markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. The dal-OUTCOMES trial (NCT00658515) will show whether dalcetrapib improves outcomes in spite of a lack of effect on endothelial function.
PMCID: PMC3345558  PMID: 22345126
High-density; Lipoprotein; Cholesterol (HDL-C); Torcetrapib; Dalcetrapib
12.  Aortic regurgitation after transcatheter aortic valve implantation: mechanisms and implications 
In recent years, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) has become an established treatment option for selected high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis (AS). Favorable results with regard to both hemodynamics and clinical outcome have been achieved with transcatheter valves.
Aortic regurgitation (AR) remains a major concern after TAVI. Echocardiography is the imaging modality of choice to assess AR in these patients due to its wide accessibility and low cost. Mostly mild residual AR has been observed in up to 70% of patients. However, as even a mild degree of AR has been associated with a decreased survival up to two years after TAVI, accurate evaluation and classification of AR is important. AR in transcatheter valves can be divided into three types according to different pathophysiological mechanisms. Besides the well-known transvalvular and paravalvular forms of regurgitation, a third form termed supra-skirtal has recently been observed. A thorough understanding of AR in transcatheter valves may allow to improve device design and implantation techniques to overcome this complication.
The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the three types of AR after TAVI focussing on the different pathophysiological mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3839218  PMID: 24282741
Transcatheter aortic valve implantation; aortic regurgitation; echocardiography
13.  Depletion of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells promotes hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(3):1323-1334.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease promoted by hyperlipidemia. Several studies support FOXP3-positive regulatory T cells (Tregs) as inhibitors of atherosclerosis; however, the mechanism underlying this protection remains elusive. To define the role of FOXP3-expressing Tregs in atherosclerosis, we used the DEREG mouse, which expresses the diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor under control of the Treg-specific Foxp3 promoter, allowing for specific ablation of FOXP3+ Tregs. Lethally irradiated, atherosclerosis-prone, low-density lipoprotein receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice received DEREG bone marrow and were injected with DT to eliminate FOXP3+ Tregs. Depletion of Tregs caused a 2.1-fold increase in atherosclerosis without a concomitant increase in vascular inflammation. These mice also exhibited a 1.7-fold increase in plasma cholesterol and an atherogenic lipoprotein profile with increased levels of VLDL. Clearance of VLDL and chylomicron remnants was hampered, leading to accumulation of cholesterol-rich particles in the circulation. Functional and protein analyses complemented by gene expression array identified reduced protein expression of sortilin-1 in liver and increased plasma enzyme activity of lipoprotein lipase, hepatic lipase, and phospholipid transfer protein as mediators of the altered lipid phenotype. These results demonstrate that FOXP3+ Tregs inhibit atherosclerosis by modulating lipoprotein metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3582120  PMID: 23426179
14.  Peripheral Blood Monocyte Sirt1 Expression Is Reduced in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53106.
Inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis. Sirt1 regulates transcription factors involved in inflammatory processes and blunts atherosclerosis in mice. However, its role in humans remains to be defined. This study was therefore designed to investigate the role of Sirt1 in the development of atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
48 male subjects admitted for cardiac catheterization were subdivided into healthy subjects, patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD), and with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Monocytes were isolated and Sirt1 mRNA levels were determined. Sirt1 gene expression was higher in healthy subjects as compared to patients with CAD or ACS (P<0.05), respectively. Interestingly, HDL levels correlated positively with Sirt1 expression. Thus, HDL from the three groups was isolated and incubated with THP-1 monocytes to determine the effects of HDL on Sirt1 protein in controlled experimental conditions. HDL from healthy subjects stimulated Sirt1 expression in THP-1 monocytes to a higher degree than HDL from CAD and ACS patients (P<0.05). Paraoxonase-1 (PON-1), a HDL-associated enzyme, showed a reduced activity in HDL isolated from CAD and ACS patients as compared to the controls (P<0.001).
Monocytic Sirt1 expression is reduced in patients with stable CAD and ACS. Experiments on THP-1 monocytes suggest that this effect is HDL-dependent and is mediated by a reduced activity of HDL-associated enzyme PON1.
PMCID: PMC3558418  PMID: 23382833
15.  Antibody Phage Display Assisted Identification of Junction Plakoglobin as a Potential Biomarker for Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47985.
To date, no plaque-derived blood biomarker is available to allow diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases. In this study, specimens of thrombendarterectomy material from carotid and iliac arteries were incubated in protein-free medium to obtain plaque and control secretomes for subsequent subtractive phage display. The selection of nine plaque secretome-specific antibodies and the analysis of their immunopurified antigens by mass spectrometry led to the identification of 22 proteins. One of them, junction plakoglobin (JUP-81) and its smaller isoforms (referred to as JUP-63, JUP-55 and JUP-30 by molecular weight) were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting with independent antibodies to be present in atherosclerotic plaques and their secretomes, coronary thrombi of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and macrophages differentiated from peripheral blood monocytes as well as macrophage-like cells differentiated from THP1 cells. Plasma of patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) (n = 15) and ACS (n = 11) contained JUP-81 at more than 2- and 14-fold higher median concentrations, respectively, than plasma of CAD-free individuals (n = 13). In conclusion, this proof of principle study identified and verified JUP isoforms as potential plasma biomarkers for atherosclerosis. Clinical validation studies are needed to determine its diagnostic efficacy and clinical utility as a biomarker for diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3480477  PMID: 23110151
16.  Falls and Fractures in the Elderly with Sinus Node Disease: The Impact of Pacemaker Implantation 
Background. Falls and fractures in the elderly are among the leading causes of disability. We investigated whether pacemaker implantation prevents falls in patients with SND in a large cohort of patients. Methods. Patient demographics and medical history were collected prospectively. Fall history was retrospectively reconstituted from available medical records. The 10-year probability for major osteoporotic fractures was calculated retrospectively from available medical records using the Swiss fracture risk assessment tool FRAX-Switzerland. Results. During a mean observation period of 2.3 years after implantation, the rates of fallers and injured fallers with fracture were reduced to 15% and 6%, respectively. This corresponds to a relative reduction in the number of fallers of 75% (P < 0.001) and of injured fallers of 63% (P = 0.014) after pacemaker implantation. Similarly, the number of falls was reduced from 60 (48%) before pacemaker implantation to 22 (18%) thereafter (relative reduction 63%, P = 0.035) and the number of falls with injury from 22 (18%) to 7 (6%), which corresponds to a relative reduction of 67%, P = 0.013. Conclusion. In patients with SND, pacemaker implantation significantly reduces the number of patients experiencing falls, the total number of falls, and the risk for osteoporotic fractures.
PMCID: PMC3488401  PMID: 23150844
17.  Predictors of Appropriate ICD Therapy in Patients with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy: Long Term Experience of a Tertiary Care Center 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e39584.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a rare genetically transmitted disease prone to ventricular arrhythmias. We therefore investigated the clinical, echocardiographical and electrophysiological predictors of appropriate implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy in patients with ARVC.
A retrospective analysis was performed in 26 patients (median age of 40 years at diagnosis, 21 males and 5 females) with ARVC who underwent ICD implantation.
Over a median (range) follow-up period of 10 (2.7, 37) years, appropriate ICD therapy for ventricular arrhythmias was documented in 12 (46%) out of 26 patients. In all patients with appropriate ICD therapy the ICD was originally inserted for secondary prevention. Median time from ICD implantation to ICD therapy was 9 months (range 3.6, 54 months). History of heart failure was a significant predictor of appropriate ICD therapy (p = 0.033). Left ventricular disease involvement (p = 0.059) and age at implantation (p = 0.063) were borderline significant predictors. Patients with syncope at time of diagnosis were significantly less likely to receive ICD therapy (p = 0.02). Invasive electrophysiological testing was not significantly associated with appropriate ICD therapy.
In our cohort of patients with ARVC, history of heart failure was a significant predictor of appropriate ICD therapy, whereas left ventricular involvement and age at time of ICD implantation were of borderline significance. These predictors should be tested in larger prospective cohorts to optimize ICD therapy in this rare cardiomyopathy.
PMCID: PMC3459957  PMID: 23028419
18.  Correction: Globotriaosylceramide Accumulation and Not Alpha-Galactosidase-A Deficiency Causes Endothelial Dysfunction in Fabry Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):10.1371/annotation/7b2c04df-8592-4fb7-8608-3039db28b504.
PMCID: PMC3464302
19.  Correction: Carotid Artery Stenting: A Single Center “Real World” Experience 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):10.1371/annotation/42028902-fdcd-4e2c-9ec0-62f01edc30fa.
PMCID: PMC3437795
20.  From abstract to impact in cardiovascular research: factors predicting publication and citation 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(24):3034-3045.
Through a 4-year follow-up of the abstracts submitted to the European Society of Cardiology Congress in 2006, we aimed at identifying factors predicting high-quality research, appraising the quality of the peer review and editorial processes, and thereby revealing potential ways to improve future research, peer review, and editorial work.
Methods and results
All abstracts submitted in 2006 were assessed for acceptance, presentation format, and average reviewer rating. Accepted and rejected studies were followed for 4 years. Multivariate regression analyses of a representative selection of 10% of all abstracts (n= 1002) were performed to identify factors predicting acceptance, subsequent publication, and citation. A total of 10 020 abstracts were submitted, 3104 (31%) were accepted for poster, and 701 (7%) for oral presentation. At Congress level, basic research, a patient number ≥ 100, and prospective study design were identified as independent predictors of acceptance. These factors differed from those predicting full-text publication, which included academic affiliation. The single parameter predicting frequent citation was study design with randomized controlled trials reaching the highest citation rates. The publication rate of accepted studies was 38%, whereas only 24% of rejected studies were published. Among published studies, those accepted at the Congress received higher citation rates than rejected ones.
Research of high quality was determined by study design and largely identified at Congress level through blinded peer review. The scientometric follow-up revealed a marked disparity between predictors of full-text publication and those predicting citation or acceptance at the Congress.
PMCID: PMC3530902  PMID: 22669850
Scientific quality; Peer review; Publication; Impact
21.  Identification of a novel loss-of-function calcium channel gene mutation in short QT syndrome (SQTS6) 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(9):1077-1088.
Short QT syndrome (SQTS) is a genetically determined ion-channel disorder, which may cause malignant tachyarrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Thus far, mutations in five different genes encoding potassium and calcium channel subunits have been reported. We present, for the first time, a novel loss-of-function mutation coding for an L-type calcium channel subunit.
Methods and results
The electrocardiogram of the affected member of a single family revealed a QT interval of 317 ms (QTc 329 ms) with tall, narrow, and symmetrical T-waves. Invasive electrophysiological testing showed short ventricular refractory periods and increased vulnerability to induce ventricular fibrillation. DNA screening of the patient identified no mutation in previously known SQTS genes; however, a new variant at a heterozygous state was identified in the CACNA2D1 gene (nucleotide c.2264G > C; amino acid p.Ser755Thr), coding for the Cavα2δ-1 subunit of the L-type calcium channel. The pathogenic role of the p.Ser755Thr variant of the CACNA2D1 gene was analysed by using co-expression of the two other L-type calcium channel subunits, Cav1.2α1 and Cavβ2b, in HEK-293 cells. Barium currents (IBa) were recorded in these cells under voltage-clamp conditions using the whole-cell configuration. Co-expression of the p.Ser755Thr Cavα2δ-1 subunit strongly reduced the IBa by more than 70% when compared with the co-expression of the wild-type (WT) variant. Protein expression of the three subunits was verified by performing western blots of total lysates and cell membrane fractions of HEK-293 cells. The p.Ser755Thr variant of the Cavα2δ-1 subunit was expressed at a similar level compared with the WT subunit in both fractions. Since the mutant Cavα2δ-1 subunit did not modify the expression of the pore-forming subunit of the L-type calcium channel, Cav1.2α1, it suggests that single channel biophysical properties of the L-type channel are altered by this variant.
In the present study, we report the first pathogenic mutation in the CACNA2D1 gene in humans, which causes a new variant of SQTS. It remains to be determined whether mutations in this gene lead to other manifestations of the J-wave syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3086900  PMID: 21383000
Arrhythmia; Short QT syndrome; Novel gene mutation; Sudden cardiac death
22.  Globotriaosylsphingosine Accumulation and Not Alpha-Galactosidase-A Deficiency Causes Endothelial Dysfunction in Fabry Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36373.
Fabry disease (FD) is caused by a deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme alpha-galactosidase A (GLA) resulting in the accumulation of globotriaosylsphingosine (Gb3) in a variety of tissues. While GLA deficiency was always considered as the fulcrum of the disease, recent attention shifted towards studying the mechanisms through which Gb3 accumulation in vascular cells leads to endothelial dysfunction and eventually multiorgan failure. In addition to the well-described macrovascular disease, FD is also characterized by abnormalities of microvascular function, which have been demonstrated by measurements of myocardial blood flow and coronary flow reserve. To date, the relative importance of Gb3 accumulation versus GLA deficiency in causing endothelial dysfunction is not fully understood; furthermore, its differential effects on cardiac micro- and macrovascular endothelial cells are not known.
Methods and Results
In order to assess the effects of Gb3 accumulation versus GLA deficiency, human macro- and microvascular cardiac endothelial cells (ECs) were incubated with Gb3 or silenced by siRNA to GLA. Gb3 loading caused deregulation of several key endothelial pathways such as eNOS, iNOS, COX-1 and COX-2, while GLA silencing showed no effects. Cardiac microvascular ECs showed a greater susceptibility to Gb3 loading as compared to macrovascular ECs.
Deregulation of key endothelial pathways as observed in FD vasculopathy is likely caused by intracellular Gb3 accumulation rather than deficiency of GLA. Human microvascular ECs, as opposed to macrovascular ECs, seem to be affected earlier and more severely by Gb3 accumulation and this notion may prove fundamental for future progresses in early diagnosis and management of FD patients.
PMCID: PMC3340376  PMID: 22558451
23.  Carotid Artery Stenting: A Single Center “Real World” Experience 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35300.
Percutaneous carotid artery stenting (CAS) became a widely used procedure in patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis. However its role compared to carotid endarterectomy (CAD) remains questioned. We analysed the safety of carotid artery stenting program of a prospective CAS register program of a tertiary teaching hospital.
Between July 2003 and December 2010, 208 patients underwent CAS procedure. Baseline, procedural and follow-up data were prospectively collected. Primary peri-interventional outcome was defined as 30-day major adverse events (MAE), including death, stroke or myocardial infarction, and mid- to long-term follow-up outcome included ipsilateral stroke, myocardial infarction or death. Secondary outcome was restenosis rate ≥50% per lesion.
Unilateral carotid artery interventions were performed in 186 patients. In 22 patients CAS was performed bilaterally as stages procedures. The 30-day MAE rate was 1.9% consisting of two contralateral strokes and two ipsilateral stroke. Mean clinically follow-up was 22 months. Mid- to long-term MAE was 8.1% with 6.3% (n = 13) deaths, 1.9% (n = 4) myocardial infarctions and 0.9% (n = 2) ipsilateral stroke. The restenosis rate ≥50% per lesion was 4.3% at a mean follow-up of 22 months. Target lesion revascularization was performed in one patient, because of restenosis at 9 months follow-up after first CAS.
Implementation of a carotid artery stenting program at a tertiary, teaching hospital is a safe method for treatment of carotid artery stenosis. The adverse event rate during mid-to-long-term follow-up suggests an appropriate patient selection.
PMCID: PMC3340379  PMID: 22558138
24.  Molecular mechanisms of vascular effects of High-density lipoprotein: alterations in cardiovascular disease 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2012;4(4):251-268.
Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction, which has triggered the hypothesis that HDL, in contrast to low-density lipoprotein (LDL), acts as an anti-atherogenic lipoprotein. Moreover, experimental studies have identified potential anti-atherogenic properties of HDL, including promotion of macrophage cholesterol efflux and direct endothelial-protective effects of HDL, such as stimulation of endothelial nitric oxide production and repair, anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties. Studies in gene-targeted mice, however, have also indicated that increasing HDL-cholesterol plasma levels can either limit (e.g. apolipoprotein A-I) or accelerate (e.g. Scavenger receptor class B type I) atherosclerosis. Moreover, vascular effects of HDL have been observed to be heterogenous and are altered in patients with CAD or diabetes, a condition that has been termed ‘HDL dysfunction’. These alterations in biological functions of HDL may need to be taken into account for HDL-targeted therapies and considering raising of HDL-cholesterol levels alone is likely not sufficient in this respect. It will therefore be important to further determine, which biological functions of HDL are critical for its anti-atherosclerotic properties, as well as how these can be measured and targeted.
PMCID: PMC3376856  PMID: 22431312
coronary artery disease; endothelium; high-density lipoprotein; inflammation; nitric oxide
25.  The effect of intravenous ferric carboxymaltose on health-related quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure and iron deficiency: a subanalysis of the FAIR-HF study 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(1):30-38.
Patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) show impaired health-related quality of life (HRQoL), an important target for therapeutic intervention. Impaired iron homeostasis may be one mechanism underlying the poor physical condition of CHF patients. This detailed subanalysis of the previously published FAIR-HF study evaluated baseline HRQoL in iron-deficient patients with CHF and the effect of intravenous ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) on HRQoL.
Methods and results
FAIR-HF randomized 459 patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction and iron deficiency, with or without anaemia, to FCM or placebo (2:1). Health-related quality of life was assessed at baseline and after 4, 12, and 24 weeks of therapy using the generic EQ-5D questionnaire and disease-specific Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ). Baseline mean Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score was 54.3 ± 16.4 and KCCQ overall summary score was 52.4 ± 18.8. Ferric carboxymaltose significantly improved VAS and KCCQ (mean differences from baseline in KCCQ overall, clinical and total symptom scores, P< 0.001 vs. placebo) at all time points. At Week 24, significant improvement vs. placebo was observed in four of the five EQ-5D dimensions: mobility (P= 0.004), self-care (P< 0.001), pain/discomfort (P= 0.006), anxiety/depression (P= 0.012), and usual activity (P= 0.035). Ferric carboxymaltose improved all KCCQ domain mean scores from Week 4 onward (P≤ 0.05), except for self-efficacy and social limitation. Effects were present in both anaemic and non-anaemic patients.
HRQoL is impaired in iron-deficient patients with CHF. Intravenous FCM significantly improved HRQoL after 4 weeks, and throughout the remaining study period. The positive effects of FCM were independent of anaemia status.
PMCID: PMC3533918  PMID: 22297124
Anaemia; Chronic heart failure; Health-related quality of life; Iron deficiency

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