Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in fruit and vegetables and is believed to attenuate cardiovascular disease. We hypothesized that quercetin inhibits cardiac hypertrophy by blocking AP-1 (c-fos, c-jun) and activating PPAR-γ signaling pathways.
The aim of this study was to identify the mechanism underlying quercetin-mediated attenuation of cardiac hypertrophy. Quercetin therapy reduced blood pressure and markedly reduced the ratio of left ventricular to body weight (LVW/BW) (P<0.05, vs. spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs)). In vitro, quercetin also significantly attenuated Ang II-induced H9C2 cells hypertrophy, as indicated by its concentration dependent inhibitory effects on [3H]leucine incorporation into H9C2 cells (64% reduction) and by the reduced hypertrophic surface area in H9C2 cells compared with the Ang II group (P<0.01, vs. Ang II group). Concurrently, we found that PPAR-γ activity was significantly increased in the quercetin-treated group both in vivo and in vitro when analyzed using immunofluorescent or immunohistochemical assays (P<0.05, vs. SHRs or P<0.01, vs. the Ang II group). Conversely, in vivo, AP-1 (c-fos, s-jun) activation was suppressed in the quercetin-treated group, as was the downstream hypertrophy gene, including mRNA levels of ANP and BNP (P<0.05, vs. SHRs). Additionally, both western blotting and real time-PCR demonstrated that PPAR-γ protein and mRNA were increased in the myocardium and AP-1 protein and mRNA were significantly decreased in the quercetin-treated group (P<0.05, vs. SHRs). Furthermore, western blotting and real time-PCR analyses also showed that transfection with PPAR-γ siRNA significantly increased AP-1 signaling and reversed the effects of quercetin inhibition on mRNA expression levels of genes such as ANP and BNP in hypertrophic H9C2 cells.
Our data indicate that quercetin may inhibit cardiac hypertrophy by enhancing PPAR-γ expression and by suppressing the AP-1 signaling pathway.