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1.  5-HT2B Receptor Antagonists Inhibit Fibrosis and Protect from RV Heart Failure 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:438403.
Objective. The serotonin (5-HT) pathway was shown to play a role in pulmonary hypertension (PH), but its functions in right ventricular failure (RVF) remain poorly understood. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of Terguride (5-HT2A and 2B receptor antagonist) or SB204741 (5-HT2B receptor antagonist) on right heart function and structure upon pulmonary artery banding (PAB) in mice. Methods. Seven days after PAB, mice were treated for 14 days with Terguride (0.2 mg/kg bid) or SB204741 (5 mg/kg day). Right heart function and remodeling were assessed by right heart catheterization, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and histomorphometric methods. Total secreted collagen content was determined in mouse cardiac fibroblasts isolated from RV tissues. Results. Chronic treatment with Terguride or SB204741 reduced right ventricular fibrosis and showed improved heart function in mice after PAB. Moreover, 5-HT2B receptor antagonists diminished TGF-beta1 induced collagen synthesis of RV cardiac fibroblasts in vitro. Conclusion. 5-HT2B receptor antagonists reduce collagen deposition, thereby inhibiting right ventricular fibrosis. Chronic treatment prevented the development and progression of pressure overload-induced RVF in mice. Thus, 5-HT2B receptor antagonists represent a valuable novel therapeutic approach for RVF.
PMCID: PMC4312574  PMID: 25667920
2.  TWEAK-Fn14 Cytokine-Receptor Axis: A New Player of Myocardial Remodeling and Cardiac Failure 
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) has been firmly established as a pathogenic factor in heart failure, a significant socio-economic burden. In this review, we will explore the role of other members of the TNF/TNF receptor superfamily (TNFSF/TNFRSF) in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) focusing on TWEAK and its receptor Fn14, new players in myocardial remodeling and heart failure. The TWEAK/Fn14 pathway controls a variety of cellular activities such as proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis and has diverse biological functions in pathological mechanisms like inflammation and fibrosis that are associated with CVDs. Furthermore, it has recently been shown that the TWEAK/Fn14 axis is a positive regulator of cardiac hypertrophy and that deletion of Fn14 receptor protects from right heart fibrosis and dysfunction. We discuss the potential use of the TWEAK/Fn14 axis as biomarker for CVDs as well as therapeutic target for future treatment of human heart failure based on supporting data from animal models and in vitro studies. Collectively, existing data strongly suggest the TWEAK/Fn14 axis as a potential new therapeutic target for achieving cardiac protection in patients with CVDs.
PMCID: PMC3920183  PMID: 24611063
cardiovascular disease; fibrosis; proliferation; hypertrophy; extracellular matrix; Toll-like receptors
3.  Deletion of Fn14 receptor protects from right heart fibrosis and dysfunction 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2013;108(2):325.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease for which no cure is yet available. The leading cause of death in PAH is right ventricular (RV) failure. Previously, the TNF receptor superfamily member fibroblast growth factor-inducible molecule 14 (Fn14) has been associated with different fibrotic diseases. However, so far there is no study demonstrating a causal role for endogenous Fn14 signaling in RV or LV heart disease. The purpose of this study was to determine whether global ablation of Fn14 prevents RV fibrosis and remodeling improving heart function. Here, we provide evidence for a causative role of Fn14 in pulmonary artery banding (PAB)-induced RV fibrosis and dysfunction in mice. Fn14 expression was increased in the RV after PAB. Mice lacking Fn14 (Fn14−/−) displayed substantially reduced RV fibrosis and dysfunction following PAB compared to wild-type littermates. Cell culture experiments demonstrated that activation of Fn14 induces collagen expression via RhoA-dependent nuclear translocation of myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A)/MAL. Furthermore, activation of Fn14 in vitro caused fibroblast proliferation and myofibroblast differentiation, which corresponds to suppression of PAB-induced RV fibrosis in Fn14−/− mice. Moreover, our findings suggest that Fn14 expression is regulated by endothelin-1 (ET-1) in cardiac fibroblasts. We conclude that Fn14 is an endogenous key regulator in cardiac fibrosis and suggest this receptor as potential new target for therapeutic interventions in heart failure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-012-0325-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3597271  PMID: 23325387
Right heart disease; Fibrosis; Fn14; MAL; Cardiac fibroblasts
4.  Nephronectin regulates atrioventricular canal differentiation via Bmp4-Has2 signaling in zebrafish 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2011;138(20):4499-4509.
The extracellular matrix is crucial for organogenesis. It is a complex and dynamic component that regulates cell behavior by modulating the activity, bioavailability and presentation of growth factors to cell surface receptors. Here, we determined the role of the extracellular matrix protein Nephronectin (Npnt) in heart development using the zebrafish model system. The vertebrate heart is formed as a linear tube in which myocardium and endocardium are separated by a layer of extracellular matrix termed the cardiac jelly. During heart development, the cardiac jelly swells at the atrioventricular (AV) canal, which precedes valve formation. Here, we show that Npnt expression correlates with this process. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of Npnt prevents proper valve leaflet formation and trabeculation and results in greater than 85% lethality at 7 days post-fertilization. The earliest observed phenotype is an extended tube-like structure at the AV boundary. In addition, the expression of myocardial genes involved in cardiac valve formation (cspg2, fibulin 1, tbx2b, bmp4) is expanded and endocardial cells along the extended tube-like structure exhibit characteristics of AV cells (has2, notch1b and Alcam expression, cuboidal cell shape). Inhibition of has2 in npnt morphants rescues the endocardial, but not the myocardial, expansion. By contrast, reduction of BMP signaling in npnt morphants reduces the ectopic expression of myocardial and endocardial AV markers. Taken together, our results identify Npnt as a novel upstream regulator of Bmp4-Has2 signaling that plays a crucial role in AV canal differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3253110  PMID: 21937601
Nephronectin; Atrioventricular canal; Bmp4; Zebrafish
5.  Cardiac Deletion of Smyd2 Is Dispensable for Mouse Heart Development 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9748.
Chromatin modifying enzymes play a critical role in cardiac differentiation. Previously, it has been shown that the targeted deletion of the histone methyltransferase, Smyd1, the founding member of the SET and MYND domain containing (Smyd) family, interferes with cardiomyocyte maturation and proper formation of the right heart ventricle. The highly related paralogue, Smyd2 is a histone 3 lysine 4- and lysine 36-specific methyltransferase expressed in heart and brain. Here, we report that Smyd2 is differentially expressed during cardiac development with highest expression in the neonatal heart. To elucidate the functional role of Smyd2 in the heart, we generated conditional knockout (cKO) mice harboring a cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of Smyd2 and performed histological, functional and molecular analyses. Unexpectedly, cardiac deletion of Smyd2 was dispensable for proper morphological and functional development of the murine heart and had no effect on global histone 3 lysine 4 or 36 methylation. However, we provide evidence for a potential role of Smyd2 in the transcriptional regulation of genes associated with translation and reveal that Smyd2, similar to Smyd3, interacts with RNA Polymerase II as well as to the RNA helicase, HELZ.
PMCID: PMC2840034  PMID: 20305823

Results 1-5 (5)