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1.  Vagus nerve stimulation improves left ventricular function in a canine model of chronic heart failure 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(12):1319-1326.
Autonomic dysfunction is a feature of chronic heart failure (HF). This study tested the hypothesis that chronic open-loop electrical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) improves LV structure and function in canines with chronic HF.
Methods and results
Twenty-six canines with HF (EF ∼35%) produced by intracoronary microembolizations were implanted with a bipolar cuff electrode around the right cervical vagus nerve and connected to an implantable pulse generator. The canines were enrolled in Control (n = 7) vs. VNS therapy (n = 7) or a crossover study, with crossovers occurring at 3 months (C × VNS, n = 6; VNS × C, n = 6). After 6 months of VNS, LVEF and LV end-systolic volume (ESV) were significantly improved compared with Control (ΔEF Control –4.6 ± 0.9% vs. VNS 6.0 ± 1.6%, P < 0.001) and (ΔESV Control 8.3 ± 1.8 mL vs. VNS –3.0 ± 2.3 mL, P = 0.002. Plasma and tissue biomarkers were also improved. In the crossover study, VNS also resulted in a significant improvement in EF and ESV compared with Control (ΔEF Control –2.3 ± 0.65% vs. VNS 6.7 ± 1.1 mL, P < 0.001 and ΔESV Control 3.2 ± 1.2 mL vs. VNS –4.0 ± 0.9 mL, P < 0.001). Initiation of therapy in the Control group at 3 months resulted in a significant improvement in EF (Control –4.7 ± 1.4% vs. VNS 3.7 ± 0.74%, P < 0.001) and ESV (Control 1.5 ± 1.2 mL vs. NS –5.5 ± 1.6 mL, P = 0.003) by 6 months.
In canines with HF, long-term, open-looped low levels of VNS therapy improves LV systolic function, prevents progressive LV enlargement, and improves biomarkers of HF when compared with control animals that did not receive therapy.
PMCID: PMC3895958  PMID: 23883651
Vagal; Autonomic nervous system; Parasympathetic; Neurostimulation; Heart failure
2.  Association of Genetic Variation with Gene Expression and Protein Abundance within the Natriuretic Peptide Pathway 
The natriuretic peptide (NP) system is a critical physiologic pathway in heart failure with wide individual variability in functioning. We investigated the genetic component by testing the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) with RNA and protein expression. Samples of DNA, RNA, and tissue from human kidney (n=103) underwent genotyping, RT-PCR, and protein quantitation (in lysates), for four candidate genes (NP-receptor 1 [NPR1], NPR2, NPR3 and membrane metallo-endopeptidase [MME]). The association of genetic variation with expression was tested using linear regression for individual SNPs, and a principal components (PC) method for overall gene variation. Eleven SNPs in NPR2 were significantly associated with protein expression (false discovery rate ≤0.05), but not RNA quantity. RNA and protein quantity correlated poorly with each other. The PC analysis showed only NPR2 as significant. Assessment of the clinical impact of NPR2 genetic variation is needed.
PMCID: PMC3795918  PMID: 23835779
Natriuretic peptide; heart failure; gene expression; pharmacogenomics; nesiritide; genetic polymorphisms
4.  Effects of Acute Intravenous Infusion of Apelin on Left Ventricular Function in Dogs with Advanced Heart Failure 
Journal of cardiac failure  2013;19(7):509-516.
Apelin-13 (APLN) through apelin receptor (APJ) exerts peripheral vasodilatory and potent positive inotropic effects. We examined the effects of exogenous intravenous infusion of APLN on left ventricular (LV) systolic function in dogs with heart failure (HF, LV ejection fraction, EF~30%).
Methods and Results
Studies were performed in 7 dogs with microembolization-induced HF. Each dog received an intravenous infusion of low dose and high dose APLN followed by washout period. LV end-diastolic volume (EDV), end-systolic volume (ESV) and LV EF were measured at specified time points. APLN protein level was determined in plasma at all time points. mRNA and protein levels of APLN and APJ in LV tissue were also measured in 7 normal (NL) and 7 heart failure (HF) dogs. APLN reduced EDV only at the high dose, significantly reduced ESV and increased EF with both doses. In plasma of HF dogs, APLN levels were reduced significantly compared to NL dogs. APLN treatment in HF dogs significantly increased the plasma APLN levels at both low and high doses. Expression of APLN, but not of APJ, was reduced in LV tissue of HF dogs compared to NL.
Exogenous administration of APLN improved LV systolic function in dogs with advanced HF.
PMCID: PMC3706995  PMID: 23834927
5.  Augmentation of Left Ventricular Wall Thickness With Alginate Hydrogel Implants Improves Left Ventricular Function and Prevents Progressive Remodeling in Dogs With Chronic Heart Failure 
JACC. Heart failure  2013;1(3):252-258.
The study tested the hypothesis that augmentation of the left ventricular (LV) wall thickness with direct intramyocardial injections of alginate hydrogel implants (AHI) reduces LV cavity size, restores LV shape, and improves LV function in dogs with heart failure (HF).
Progressive LV dysfunction, enlargement, and chamber sphericity are features of HF associated with increased mortality and morbidity.
Studies were performed in 14 dogs with HF produced by intracoronary microembolizations (LV ejection fraction [EF] <30%). Dogs were randomized to AHI treatment (n = 8) or to sham-operated control (n = 6). During an open-chest procedure, dogs received either intramyocardial injections of 0.25 to 0.35 ml of alginate hydrogel (Algisyl-LVR, LoneStar Heart, Inc., Laguna Hills, California) or saline. Seven injections were made ∼1.0 to 1.5 cm apart (total volume 1.8 to 2.1 ml) along the circumference of the LV free wall halfway between the apex and base starting from the anteroseptal groove and ending at the posteroseptal groove. Hemodynamic and ventriculographic measurements were made before treatment (PRE) and repeated post-surgery for up to 17 weeks (POST).
Compared to control, AHI significantly reduced LV end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes and improved LV sphericity. AHI treatment significantly increased EF (26 ± 0.4% at PRE to 31 ± 0.4% at POST; p < 0.05) compared to the decreased EF seen in control dogs (27 ± 0.3% at PRE to 24 ± 1.3% at POST; p < 0.05). AHI treatment was well tolerated and was not associated with increased LV diastolic stiffness.
In HF dogs, circumferential augmentation of LV wall thickness with AHI improves LV structure and function. The results support continued development of AHI for the treatment of patients with advanced HF.
PMCID: PMC3756288  PMID: 23998003
animal models; congestive heart failure; functional mitral regurgitation; left ventricular function; pressure-volume relationship
8.  Pleiotropic Effects of Long-term Monotherapy with Rosuvastatin in Dogs with Moderate Heart Failure 
Cardiology  2012;123(3):160-167.
The objective of this study was to investigate potential pleiotropic effects of rosuvastatin (RSV) in left ventricular (LV) myocardium of dogs with moderate heart failure (HF).
LV tissue was obtained from HF dogs randomized to 3 months therapy with low dose (LD) RSV (n=7), high dose (HD) RSV (n=7) or to no therapy (Control, n=7), and from 7 normal (NL) dogs. mRNA and protein expression of pro-hypertrophic mediators NGFI-A binding protein 1 (Nab1), phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR); pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6); bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSCs) markers cKit and Sca1; vascular endothelial (VEGF) and fibroblast (FGF) growth factors and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms were measured.
Nab1, PTEN, PI3K, mTOR, and IL-6 increased in Controls. HD RSV reduced expression of Nab1, PTEN, PI3K, mTOR, and IL-6 to near normal levels. cKit and Sca1 significantly increased while VEGF and FGF decreased in Controls compared to NL. RSV therapy further increased expression of cKit, Sca1, VEGF and FGF. HD RSV normalized expression of NOS isoforms.
These pleiotropic effects of RSV may account, in part, for the observed beneficial effect of RSV on LV function and structural remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3544002  PMID: 23128666
Inflammation; Cytokines; Growth factors; Nitric oxide synthase; Hypertrophy; Stem cells
10.  Chronic Therapy with a Partial Adenosine A1 Receptor Agonist, Improves Left Ventricular Function and Remodeling in Dogs with Advanced Heart Failure 
Circulation. Heart failure  2013;6(3):563-571.
Adenosine (AD) elicits cardioprotection through A1-receptor (A1R) activation. Therapy with AD A1R agonists, however, is limited by undesirable actions of full agonism such as bradycardia. This study examined the effects of capadenoson (CAP), a partial AD A1R agonist, on left ventricular (LV) function and remodeling in dogs with heart failure (HF).
Methods and Results
12 dogs with microembolization-induced HF were randomized to 12 weeks oral therapy with CAP (7.5 mg Bid, n=6) or to no therapy (Control, n=6). LV end-diastolic (EDV) and end-systolic (ESV) volumes, ejection fraction (EF), plasma norepinephrine (NE) and n-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (nt-pro BNP) were measured before (PRE) and 1 and 12 weeks after therapy (POST). LV tissue obtained at POST was used to assess volume fraction of interstitial fibrosis (VFIF), SERCA-2a activity, expression of mitochondria uncoupling proteins (UCP) and glucose transporters (GLUT). In controls, EDV and ESV increased and EF decreased significantly from PRE to POST (EF: 30±2 vs. 27±1 %, p<0.05). In CAP-treated dogs, EDV was unchanged; EF increased significantly after one week (36±2 vs. 27±2 %, p<0.05) with a further increase at POST (39±2 %, p<0.05) while ESV decreased. CAP significantly decreased VFIF, normalized SERCA-2a activity and expression of UCP-2 and -3, and GLUT-1 and -2 and significantly decreased NE and nt-pro BNP.
In HF dogs, CAP improves LV function and prevents progressive remodeling. Improvement of LV systolic function occurs early after initiating therapy. The results support development of partial AD A1R agonists for the treatment of chronic HF.
PMCID: PMC3790141  PMID: 23564604
Heart failure; Ventricular remodeling; Protein expression; Adenosine receptors
11.  Vagus Nerve Stimulation in Experimental Heart Failure 
Heart failure reviews  2011;16(2):171-178.
Chronic heart failure (HF) is associated with autonomic dysregulation characterized by a sustained increase of sympathetic drive and by withdrawal of parasympathetic activity. Sympathetic overdrive and increased heart rate are predictors of poor long-term outcome in patients with HF. Considerable evidence exists that supports the use of pharmacologic agents that partially inhibit sympathetic activity as effective long-term therapy for patients with HF; the classic example is the wide use of selective and non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor blockers. In contrast, modulation of parasympathetic activation as potential therapy for HF has received only limited attention over the years given its complex cardiovascular effects. In this article, we review results of recent experimental animal studies that provide support for the possible use of electrical Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as a long-term therapy for the treatment of chronic HF. In addition to exploring the effects of chronic VNS on left ventricular (LV) function, the review will also address the effects of VNS on potential modifiers of the HF state that include cytokine production and nitric oxide elaboration. Finally, we will briefly review other nerve stimulation approaches also currently under investigation as potential therapeutic modalities for treating chronic HF.
PMCID: PMC3784341  PMID: 21128115
Ventricular function; Ventricular remodeling; Electrical nerve stimulation; Sympathetic activity; Parasympathetic activity; Animal models of disease; Cytokines; Nitric oxide
12.  High intake of saturated fat, but not polyunsaturated fat, improves survival in heart failure despite persistent mitochondrial defects 
Cardiovascular Research  2011;93(1):24-32.
The impact of a high-fat diet on the failing heart is unclear, and the differences between polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and saturated fat have not been assessed. Here, we compared a standard low-fat diet to high-fat diets enriched with either saturated fat (palmitate and stearate) or PUFA (linoleic and α-linolenic acids) in hamsters with genetic cardiomyopathy.
Methods and results
Male δ-sarcoglycan null Bio TO2 hamsters were fed a standard low-fat diet (12% energy from fat), or high-fat diets (45% fat) comprised of either saturated fat or PUFA. The median survival was increased by the high saturated fat diet (P< 0.01; 278 days with standard diet and 361 days with high saturated fat)), but not with high PUFA (260 days) (n = 30–35/group). Body mass was modestly elevated (∼10%) in both high fat groups. Subgroups evaluated after 24 weeks had similar left ventricular chamber size, function, and mass. Mitochondrial oxidative enzyme activity and the yield of interfibrillar mitochondria (IFM) were decreased to a similar extent in all TO2 groups compared with normal F1B hamsters. Ca2+-induced mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening was enhanced in IFM in all TO2 groups compared with F1B hamsters, but to a significantly greater extent in those fed the high PUFA diet compared with the standard or high saturated fat diet.
These results show that a high intake of saturated fat improves survival in heart failure compared with a high PUFA diet or low-fat diet, despite persistent mitochondrial defects.
PMCID: PMC3243037  PMID: 21960686
Cardiomyopathy; Low-carbohydrate diet; Metabolism; Obesity
13.  Chronic Electrical Stimulation of the Carotid Sinus Baroreflex Improves LV Function and Promotes Reversal of Ventricular Remodeling in Dogs with Advanced Heart Failure 
Circulation. Heart failure  2010;4(1):65-70.
Autonomic abnormalities exist in heart failure (HF) and contribute to disease progression. Activation of the Carotid sinus baroreflex (CSB) has been shown to reduce sympathetic outflow and augment parasympathetic vagal tone. This study tested the hypothesis that long-term electrical activation of carotid sinus baroreflex improves left ventricular (LV) function and attenuates progressive LV remodeling in dogs with advanced chronic HF.
Methods and Results
Studies were performed in 14 dogs with coronary microembolization-induced HF (LV ejection fraction, EF ~25%). Eight dogs were chronically instrumented for bilateral CSB activation using the Rheos® System (CVRx® Inc., Minneapolis, MN) and 6 were not and served as controls. All dogs were followed for 3 months and none received other background therapy. During follow-up, treatment with CSB increased LV EF 4.0 ± 2.4 % compared to a reduction in control dogs of −2.8 ± 1.0% (p<0.05). Similarly, treatment with CSB decreased LV end-systolic volume −2.5 ± 2.7 ml compared to an increase in control dogs of 6.7 ± 2.9 ml (p<0.05). Compared to control, CSB activation significantly decreased LV end-diastolic pressure and circulating plasma norepinephrine, normalized expression of cardiac β1-adrenergic receptors, β-adrenergic receptor kinase and nitric oxide synthase and reduced interstitial fibrosis and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy.
In dogs with advanced HF, CSB activation improves global LV function and partially reverses LV remodeling both globally and at cellular and molecular levels.
PMCID: PMC3048958  PMID: 21097604
heart failure; ventricular remodeling; gene expression; baroreflex function
14.  Atenolol Is Inferior to Metoprolol in Improving Left Ventricular Function and Preventing Ventricular Remodeling in Dogs with Heart Failure 
Cardiology  2008;112(4):294-302.
β-Blockers are standard therapy for patients with heart failure (HF). This study compared the effects of chronic monotherapy with 2 different β1-selective adrenoceptor blockers, namely atenolol and metoprolol succinate, on left ventricular (LV) function and remodeling in dogs with coronary microembolization-induced HF [LV ejection fraction (EF) 30–40%].
Twenty HF dogs were randomized to 3 months of therapy with atenolol (50 mg once daily, n = 6), metoprolol succinate (100 mg, once daily, n = 7) or to no therapy (control, n = 7). LV EF and volumes were measured before initiating therapy and after 3 months of therapy. The change (Δ) in EF and volumes between measurements before and after therapy was calculated and compared among study groups.
In controls, EF decreased and end-systolic volume increased. Atenolol prevented the decrease in EF and the increase in ESV. In contrast, metoprolol succinate significantly increased EF and decreased end-systolic volume. ΔEF was significantly higher and Δend-systolic volume significantly lower in metoprolol succinate-treated dogs compared to atenolol-treated dogs (EF: 6.0 ± 0.86% vs. 0.8 ± 0.85%, p < 0.05; end-systolic volume: −4.3 ± 0.81 ml vs. −1 ± 0.52 ml, p <0.05).
In HF dogs, chronic therapy with atenolol does not elicit the same LV function and remodeling benefits as those achieved with metoprolol succinate.
PMCID: PMC2917737  PMID: 18832825
Heart failure; Myocyte hypertrophy; Ventricular remodeling; Gene expression

Results 1-14 (14)