Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive lung disease characterized by pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodelling, leading to increased pulmonary vascular resistance and right heart failure. Loss of nitric oxide (NO) signalling and increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-derived oxidative stress are central to the pathogenesis of PAH, yet the mechanisms involved remain incompletely determined. In this study, we investigated the role activated CD47 plays in promoting PAH.
Methods and results
We report high-level expression of thrombospondin-1 (TSP1) and CD47 in the lungs of human subjects with PAH and increased expression of TSP1 and activated CD47 in experimental models of PAH, a finding matched in hypoxic human and murine pulmonary endothelial cells. In pulmonary endothelial cells CD47 constitutively associates with caveolin-1 (Cav-1). Conversely, in hypoxic animals and cell cultures activation of CD47 by TSP1 disrupts this constitutive interaction, promoting eNOS-dependent superoxide production, oxidative stress, and PAH. Hypoxic TSP1 null mice developed less right ventricular pressure and hypertrophy and markedly less arteriole muscularization compared with wild-type animals. Further, therapeutic blockade of CD47 activation in hypoxic pulmonary artery endothelial cells upregulated Cav-1, increased Cav-1CD47 co-association, decreased eNOS-derived superoxide, and protected animals from developing PAH.
Activated CD47 is upregulated in experimental and human PAH and promotes disease by limiting Cav-1 inhibition of dysregulated eNOS.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension; CD47; eNOS; Caveolin-1; Reactive oxygen species
GATA4 is a transcription factor that is up-regulated during cardiac hypertrophy and plays a fundamental role in myocyte growth and survival. In this study, we investigate the transcriptional vs. post-transcriptional mechanisms that are involved in regulating GATA4 in the heart during neonatal and pressure overload-induced hypertrophic growth.
Methods and results
GATA4 protein is significantly higher during pressure overload-induced (2.9 ± 0.4-fold) and neonatal (6.8 ± 1-fold) hypertrophic growth vs. the normal adult mouse heart. Using RNA polymerase II immunoprecipitation combined with deep sequencing, we confirmed that active transcription of the Gata4 gene remained unchanged during hypertrophy, whereas it was two-fold higher in the neonatal vs. adult heart, commensurate with the mRNA levels. These results suggested a post-transcriptional mode of regulation of its expression, which prompted the identification of a conserved sequence in its 3′-untranslated region that was responsible for reduced translation via miR-26b. Overexpression of miR-26b reduced GATA4-dependent transcription, endothelin-induced hypertrophy, and sensitized the cells to apoptotic insults. Additionally, miR-26b targeted phospholipase C-β1, which, in turn, inhibited miR-26b expression, creating a double-negative feedback loop. Accordingly, overexpression of miR-26b in the heart inhibited up-regulation of its targets and the development of hypertrophy. However, knockdown of miR-26b is not sufficient for inducing hypertrophy.
Down-regulation of miR-26b in the heart is required for the up-regulation of GATA4 and the induction of pressure-induced cardiac hypertrophy. The results also underscore the functional relevance of miRNAs in regulating gene expression during cardiac hypertrophy.
miR-26; GATA4; Hypertrophy; Phospholipase C-β
Clinical markers of cardiac autonomic function, such as heart rate and response to exercise, are important predictors of cardiovascular risk. Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is a required cofactor for enzymes with roles in cardiac autonomic function, including tyrosine hydroxylase and nitric oxide synthase. Synthesis of BH4 is regulated by GTP cyclohydrolase I (GTPCH), encoded by GCH1. Recent clinical studies report associations between GCH1 variants and increased heart rate, but the mechanistic importance of GCH1 and BH4 in autonomic function remains unclear. We investigate the effect of BH4 deficiency on the autonomic regulation of heart rate in the hph-1 mouse model of BH4 deficiency.
Methods and results
In the hph-1 mouse, reduced cardiac GCH1 expression, GTPCH enzymatic activity, and BH4 were associated with increased resting heart rate; blood pressure was not different. Exercise training decreased resting heart rate, but hph-1 mice retained a relative tachycardia. Vagal nerve stimulation in vitro induced bradycardia equally in hph-1 and wild-type mice both before and after exercise training. Direct atrial responses to carbamylcholine were equal. In contrast, propranolol treatment normalized the resting tachycardia in vivo. Stellate ganglion stimulation and isoproterenol but not forskolin application in vitro induced a greater tachycardic response in hph-1 mice. β1-adrenoceptor protein was increased as was the cAMP response to isoproterenol stimulation.
Reduced GCH1 expression and BH4 deficiency cause tachycardia through enhanced β-adrenergic sensitivity, with no effect on vagal function. GCH1 expression and BH4 are novel determinants of cardiac autonomic regulation that may have important roles in cardiovascular pathophysiology.
Tetrahydrobiopterin; Autonomic function; Exercise; Heart rate
Vascular remodelling is an integral pathological process central to a number of cardiovascular diseases. The complex interplay between distinct cell populations in the vessel wall following vascular injury leads to inflammation, cellular dysfunction, pro-growth signals in the smooth muscle cell (SMC) compartment, and the acquisition of a synthetic phenotype. Although the signals for vascular remodelling are diverse in different pathological contexts, SMC proliferation and migration are consistently observed. It is therefore critical to elucidate key mechanisms central to these processes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding sequences of RNA that have the capacity to regulate many genes, pathways, and complex biological networks within cells, acting either alone or in concert with one another. In diseases such as cancer and cardiac disease, the role of miRNA in disease pathogenesis has been documented in detail. In contrast, despite a great deal of interest in miRNA, relatively few studies have directly assessed the role of miRNA in vascular remodelling. The potential for modulation of miRNA to achieve therapeutic benefits in this setting is attractive. Here, we focus on the role of miRNA in vascular inflammation and remodelling associated with acute vascular injury (vein graft disease, angioplasty restenosis, and in-stent restenosis) as well as in vascular remodelling associated with the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension.
MicroRNA; Vascular pathology; Vascular remodelling; Smooth muscle cell; Pulmonary arterial hypertension
In atherosclerosis and restenosis, vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) migrate into the subendothelial space and proliferate, contributing to neointimal formation. The goal of this study was to define the signalling pathway by which Nox1 NAPDH oxidase mediates SMC migration.
Methods and results
SMCs were cultured from thoracic aorta from Nox1−/y (Nox1 knockout, KO) and wild-type (WT) mice. In response to thrombin, WT but not Nox1 KO SMCs generated increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Deficiency of Nox1 prevented thrombin-induced phosphorylation of Src and the subsequent transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) at multiple tyrosine residues. Next, activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) by thrombin was inhibited by the EGFR inhibitor AG1478 and in Nox1 KO SMCs. Thrombin-induced shedding of N-cadherin from the plasma membrane was dependent on the presence of Nox1 and was blocked by AG1478 and an inhibitor of metalloproteinases. Migration of SMCs to thrombin was impaired in the Nox1 KO SMCs and was restored by expression of Nox1. Finally, treatment of WT SMCs with AG1478 abrogated Nox1-dependent SMC migration.
The Nox1 NADPH oxidase signals through EGFR to activate MMP-9 and promote the shedding of N-cadherin, thereby contributing to SMC migration.
Smooth muscle cells; NADPH oxidase; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Matrix-metalloproteinase; N-cadherin
Myocardial tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) expression induces cardiac dysfunction in endotoxemia. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP1) pathway in myocardial TNF-α expression and cardiac function during endotoxemia.
Methods and results
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) increased MKP1 expression in the myocardium in vivo and in cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes in vitro. LPS-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and p38 phosphorylation in the myocardium was prolonged in MKP1−/− mice. Myocardial TNF-α mRNA and protein levels were enhanced in MKP1−/− compared with wild-type (WT) mice in endotoxemia, leading to a further decrease in cardiac function. To study if Rac1/p21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) signalling regulates MKP1 expression, cardiomyocytes were treated with LPS. Inhibition of Rac1 and PAK1 by a dominant negative Rac1 adenovirus (Ad-Rac1N17) and PAK1 siRNA, respectively, blocked LPS-induced MKP1 expression in cardiomyocytes. PAK1 siRNA also decreased p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, and TNF-α expression induced by LPS. Furthermore, deficiency in either Rac1 or JNK1 decreased myocardial MKP1 expression in endotoxemic mice.
LPS activates the Rac1/PAK1 pathway, which increases myocardial MKP1 expression via JNK1. MKP1 attenuates ERK1/2 and p38 activation, inhibits myocardial TNF-α expression, and improves cardiac function in endotoxemia. Thus, MKP1 represents an important negative feedback mechanism limiting pro-inflammatory response in the heart during sepsis.
Lipopolysaccharide; MKP1; TNF-α; Cardiac function; Sepsis
The highly expressed cell adhesion receptor CD29 (β1-integrin) is essential for cardiomyocyte growth and survival, and its loss of function causes severe heart disease. However, CD29-induced signalling in cardiomyocytes is ill defined and may involve reactive oxygen species (ROS). A decisive source of cardiac ROS is the abundant NADPH oxidase (NOX) isoform NOX2. Because understanding of NOX-derived ROS in the heart is still poor, we sought to test the role of ROS and NOX in CD29-induced survival signalling in cardiomyocytes.
Methods and results
In neonatal rat ventricular myocytes, CD29 activation induced intracellular ROS formation (oxidative burst) as assessed by flow cytometry using the redox-sensitive fluorescent dye dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate. This burst was inhibited by apocynin and diphenylene iodonium. Further, activation of CD29 enhanced NOX activity (lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence) and activated the MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt survival pathways. CD29 also induced phosphorylation of the inhibitory Ser9 on the pro-apoptotic kinase glycogen synthase kinase-3β in a PI3K/Akt- and MEK-dependent manner, and improved cardiomyocyte viability under conditions of oxidative stress. The ROS scavenger MnTMPyP or adenoviral co-overexpression of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase inhibited CD29-induced pro-survival signalling. Further, CD29-induced protective pathways were lost in mouse cardiomyocytes deficient for NOX2 or functional p47phox, a regulatory subunit of NOX.
p47phox-dependent, NOX2-derived ROS are mandatory for CD29-induced pro-survival signalling in cardiomyocytes. These findings go in line with a growing body of evidence suggesting that ROS can be beneficial to the cell and support a crucial role for NOX2-derived ROS in cell survival in the heart.
NOX; Reactive oxygen species; β1-Integrin; Cardiomyocytes; Glycogen synthase kinase-3β
Neuregulins (NRG) are growth factors that are synthesized by endothelial cells (ECs) and bind to erbB receptors. We have shown previously that NRG is proangiogenic in vitro, and that NRG/erbB signalling is important for autocrine endothelial angiogenic signalling in vitro. However, the role of NRG in the angiogenic response to ischaemia is unknown. We hypothesized that endothelial NRG is required for ischaemia-induced angiogenesis in vivo and that exogenous administration of NRG will enhance angiogenic responses after ischaemic insult.
Methods and results
An endothelial-selective inducible NRG knockout mouse was created and subjected to femoral artery ligation. Endothelial NRG deletion significantly decreased blood flow recovery (by 40%, P < 0.05), capillary density, αvβ3 integrin activation, and arteriogenesis after ischaemic injury. Isolated ECs from knockout mice demonstrated significantly impaired cord formation in vitro, suggesting that NRG signalling performs an important cell autonomous function. Recombinant human NRG (rNRG) has not only reversed the angiogenic defect in knockout mice but also accelerated blood flow recovery in wild-type mice.
Endothelial production of NRG is required for angiogenesis and arteriogenesis induced by ischaemic injury. Furthermore, exogenous administration of rNRG can enhance this process, suggesting a potential role for NRG in vascular disease.
Endothelium; Angiogenesis; Ischaemia; Genetically altered mice; Growth factors
Despite increased understanding of the fundamental biology regulating cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and heart failure, it has been challenging to find novel chemical or genetic modifiers of these pathways. Traditional cell-based methods do not model the complexity of an intact cardiovascular system and mammalian models are not readily adaptable to chemical or genetic screens. Our objective was to create an in vivo model suitable for chemical and genetic screens for hypertrophy and heart failure modifiers
Methods and results
Using the developing zebrafish, we established that the cardiac natriuretic peptide genes (nppa and nppb), known markers of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and heart failure, were induced in the embryonic heart by pathological cardiac stimuli. This pathological induction was distinct from the developmental regulation of these genes. We created a luciferase-based transgenic reporter line that accurately modelled the pathological induction patterns of the zebrafish nppb gene. Utilizing this reporter line, we were able to show remarkable conservation of pharmacological responses between the larval zebrafish heart and adult mammalian models.
By performing a focused screen of chemical agents, we were able to show a distinct response of a genetic model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to the histone deacetylase inhibitor, Trichostatin A, and the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 inhibitor, U0126. We believe this in vivo reporter line will offer a unique approach to the identification of novel chemical or genetic regulators of myocardial hypertrophy and heart failure.
Natriuretic peptides; Hypertrophy; Heart development; Heart failure; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Alternative transcription and splicing of the allograft inflammatory factor-1 (AIF-1) gene results in the expression of two different proteins: AIF-1 and interferon responsive transcript-1 (IRT-1). Here, we explore the impact of AIF-1 and IRT-1 on vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) activation and neointima formation, the mechanisms underlying their alternative splicing, and associations of AIF-1 and IRT-1 mRNA with parameters defining human atherosclerotic plaque phenotype.
Methods and results
Translation of AIF-1 and IRT-1 results in different products with contrasting cellular distribution and functions. Overexpression of AIF-1 stimulates migration and proliferation of human VSMCs, whereas IRT-1 exerts opposite effects. Adenoviral infection of angioplasty-injured rat carotid arteries with AdAIF-1 exacerbates intima hyperplasia, whereas infection with AdIRT-1 reduces neointima. Expression of these variants is modulated by changes in nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) activity. Pharmacological inhibition of NFAT or targeting of NFATc3 with small interfering RNA (siRNA) lowers the AIF-1/IRT-1 ratio and favours an anti-proliferative outcome. NFAT acts as a repressor on the IRT-1 transcriptional start site, which is also sensitive to interferon-γ stimulation. Expression of AIF-1 mRNA in human carotid plaques associates with less extracellular matrix and a more pro-inflammatory plaque and plasma profile, features that may predispose to plaque rupture. In contrast, expression of IRT-1 mRNA associates with a less aggressive phenotype and less VSMCs at the most stenotic region of the plaque.
Inhibition of NFAT signalling, by shifting the AIF-1/IRT-1 ratio, may be an attractive target to regulate the VSMC response to injury and manipulate plaque stability in atherosclerosis.
AIF-1; NFAT; Restenosis; Atherosclerosis; Vascular smooth muscle
Cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure are associated with QT prolongation and lethal ventricular arrhythmias resulting from decreased K+ current densities and impaired repolarization. Recent studies in mouse models of physiological cardiac hypertrophy revealed that increased phosphoinositide-3-kinase-α (PI3Kα) signalling results in the up-regulation of K+ channels and the normalization of ventricular repolarization. The experiments here were undertaken to test the hypothesis that increased PI3Kα signalling will counteract the adverse electrophysiological remodelling associated with pathological hypertrophy and heart failure.
Methods and results
In contrast to wild-type mice, left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, induced by transverse aortic constriction (TAC), did not result in prolongation of ventricular action potentials or QT intervals in mice with cardiac-specific expression of constitutively active PI3Kα (caPI3Kα). Indeed, repolarizing K+ currents and K+ channel subunit transcripts were increased in caPI3Kα + TAC LV myocytes in proportion to the TAC-induced cellular hypertrophy. Congestive heart failure in a transgenic model of dilated cardiomyopathy model is accompanied by prolonged QT intervals and ventricular action potentials, reduced K+ currents and K+ channel transcripts. Increased PI3Kα signalling, but not renin–angiotensin system blockade, in this model also results in increased K+ currents and improved ventricular repolarization.
In the setting of pathological hypertrophy or heart failure, enhanced PI3Kα signalling results in the up-regulation of K+ channel subunits, normalization of K+ current densities and preserved ventricular function. Augmentation of PI3Kα signalling, therefore, may be a useful and unique strategy to protect against the increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death associated with cardiomyopathy.
PI3Kα signalling; Pathological hypertrophy; Heart failure; Arrhythmia
Fibrosis is known to promote cardiac arrhythmias by disrupting myocardial structure. Given recent evidence that myofibroblasts form gap junctions with myocytes at least in co-cultures, we investigated whether myofibroblast–myocyte coupling can promote arrhythmia triggers, such as early afterdepolarizations (EADs), by directly influencing myocyte electrophysiology.
Methods and results
Using the dynamic voltage clamp technique, patch-clamped adult rabbit ventricular myocytes were electrotonically coupled to one or multiple virtual fibroblasts or myofibroblasts programmed with eight combinations of capacitance, membrane resistance, resting membrane potential, and gap junction coupling resistance, spanning physiologically realistic ranges. Myocytes were exposed to oxidative (1 mmol/L H2O2) or ionic (2.7 mmol/L hypokalaemia) stress to induce bradycardia-dependent EADs. In the absence of myofibroblast–myocyte coupling, EADs developed during slow pacing (6 s), but were completely suppressed by faster pacing (1 s). However, in the presence of myofibroblast–myocyte coupling, EADs could no longer be suppressed by rapid pacing, especially when myofibroblast resting membrane potential was depolarized (−25 mV). Analysis of the myofibroblast–myocyte virtual gap junction currents revealed two components: an early transient-outward Ito-like current and a late sustained current. Selective elimination of the Ito-like component prevented EADs, whereas selective elimination of the late component did not.
Coupling of myocytes to myofibroblasts promotes EAD formation as a result of a mismatch in early vs. late repolarization reserve caused by the Ito-like component of the gap junction current. These cellular and ionic mechanisms may contribute to the pro-arrhythmic risk in fibrotic hearts.
Arrhythmia; Early afterdepolarization; Myofibroblasts; Ventricular myocytes; Dynamic clamp
Hypoxia causes protein kinase C epsilon (PKCɛ) gene repression in foetal hearts, resulting in heightened cardiac susceptibility to ischaemic injury in offspring. We tested the hypothesis that hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) and/or reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediate hypoxia-induced PKCɛ gene repression.
Methods and results
Hypoxia induced in vivo to pregnant rats, ex vivo to isolated foetal rat hearts, and in vitro in the rat embryonic ventricular myocyte cell line H9c2 resulted in a comparable decrease in PKCɛ protein and mRNA abundance in foetal hearts and H9c2 cells, which was associated with a significant increase in CpG methylation of the SP1-binding sites at the PKCɛ promoter. In H9c2 cells and foetal hearts, hypoxia caused nuclear accumulation of HIF-1α, which was inhibited by 3-(5′-hydroxymethyl-2′-furyl)-1-benzylindazole and 2-methoxy estradiol. The HIF-1α inhibitors had no significant effect on hypoxia-induced PKCɛ mRNA repression. Hypoxia produced a time-dependent increase in ROS production in H9c2 cells and foetal hearts that was blocked by ROS scavengers N-acetyl-cysteine or tempol. In accordance, N-acetyl-cysteine and tempol, but not apocynin, inhibited the hypoxic effect and restored PKCɛ protein and mRNA expression to the control values in foetal hearts and H9c2 cells. The ROS scavengers blocked hypoxia-induced CpG methylation of the SP1-binding sites, restored SP1 binding to the PKCɛ promoter, and abrogated the hypoxia-induced increase in the susceptibility of the heart to ischaemic injury in offspring.
The results demonstrate that hypoxia induces epigenetic repression of the PKCɛ gene through a NADPH oxidase-independent ROS-mediated pathway in the foetal heart, leading to heightened heart vulnerability to ischaemic injury in offspring.
Hypoxia; Heart; Protein kinase C; Epigenetic; Oxidative stress
The first seconds of ventricular fibrillation (VF) are well organized and can consist of just one to two rotating waves (rotors). New rotors are spawned when local propagation block causes wave fragmentation. We hypothesized that this process, which leads to fully developed VF, begins at a consistent anatomic site.
Methods and results
We initiated VF with a stimulus timed to the local T-wave in 10 isolated pig hearts. Hearts were stained with a voltage-sensitive dye and four video cameras recorded electrical propagation panoramically across the epicardium. In each VF episode, we identified the position of the first wavebreak event that produced new rotor(s) that persisted for at least one cycle. The first such wavebreak occurred along the anterior right ventricular insertion (ARVI) in 26 of 32 VF episodes. In these episodes, wavebreak sites were 6 ± 4 mm from the midline of the ARVI. In the remaining 6 episodes, wavebreak sites were 24 ± 5 mm from the midline on either the LV or RV. During rapid pacing, conduction speed was locally depressed at the ARVI when waves crossed parallel to the midline. Action potential duration (APD) was slightly longer (2.2 ± 2.1 ms) at the ARVI compared with other sites (P< 0.01). Temporal APD alternans were small and not unique to the break site, suggesting that dynamic APD properties were not the cause of wavebreak.
The ARVI is the dominant site for wavebreak at the onset of VF in normal myocardium. This may be due to the anatomic complexity of the region.
Arrhythmia; Re-entry; Rotor; Conduction block
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is known to exert cardioprotective actions. However, it remains unknown if autophagy, a major adaptive response to nutritional stress, contributes to IGF-1-mediated cardioprotection.
Methods and results
We subjected cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, as well as live mice, to nutritional stress and assessed cell death and autophagic rates. Nutritional stress induced by serum/glucose deprivation strongly induced autophagy and cell death, and both responses were inhibited by IGF-1. The Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway mediated the effects of IGF-1 upon autophagy. Importantly, starvation also decreased intracellular ATP levels and oxygen consumption leading to AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation; IGF-1 increased mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and mitochondrial respiration in nutrient-starved cells. IGF-1 also rescued ATP levels, reduced AMPK phosphorylation and increased p70S6K phosphorylation, which indicates that in addition to Akt/mTOR, IGF-1 inhibits autophagy by the AMPK/mTOR axis. In mice harbouring a liver-specific igf1 deletion, which dramatically reduces IGF-1 plasma levels, AMPK activity and autophagy were increased, and significant heart weight loss was observed in comparison with wild-type starved animals, revealing the importance of IGF-1 in maintaining cardiac adaptability to nutritional insults in vivo.
Our data support the cardioprotective actions of IGF-1, which, by rescuing the mitochondrial metabolism and the energetic state of cells, reduces cell death and controls the potentially harmful autophagic response to nutritional challenges. IGF-1, therefore, may prove beneficial to mitigate damage induced by excessive nutrient-related stress, including ischaemic disease in multiple tissues.
IGF-1; Macroautophagy; Heart; ATP; Akt; mTOR
Since the development of the first mathematical cardiac cell model 50 years ago, computational modelling has become an increasingly powerful tool for the analysis of data and for the integration of information related to complex cardiac behaviour. Current models build on decades of iteration between experiment and theory, representing a collective understanding of cardiac function. All models, whether computational, experimental, or conceptual, are simplified representations of reality and, like tools in a toolbox, suitable for specific applications. Their range of applicability can be explored (and expanded) by iterative combination of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ investigation, where experimental or clinical data are used to first build and then validate computational models (allowing integration of previous findings, quantitative assessment of conceptual models, and projection across relevant spatial and temporal scales), while computational simulations are utilized for plausibility assessment, hypotheses-generation, and prediction (thereby defining further experimental research targets). When implemented effectively, this combined wet/dry research approach can support the development of a more complete and cohesive understanding of integrated biological function. This review illustrates the utility of such an approach, based on recent examples of multi-scale studies of cardiac structure and mechano-electric function.
Heart; Mechano-Electric Feedback; Computational Model; Experimental Model; Multi-Scale
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.
Cardiomyopathy; Low-carbohydrate diet; Metabolism; Obesity
The mammalian soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) has both an epoxide hydrolase and a phosphatase domain. The role of sEH hydrolase activity in the metabolism of epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) and the activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in endothelial cells (ECs) has been well defined. However, far less is known about the role of sEH phosphatase activity in eNOS activation. In the present study, we investigated whether the phosphatase domain of sEH was involved in the eNOS activation in ECs.
Methods and results
The level of eNOS phosphorylation in aortas is higher in the sEH knockout (sEH−/−) mice than in wild-type mice. In ECs, pharmacological inhibition of sEH phosphatase or overexpressing sEH with an inactive phosphatase domain enhanced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced NO production and eNOS phosphorylation. In contrast, overexpressing the phosphatase domain of sEH prevented the VEGF-mediated NO production and eNOS phosphorylation at Ser617, Ser635, and Ser1179. Additionally, treatment with VEGF induced a c-Src kinase-dependent increase in transient tyrosine phosphorylation of sEH and the formation of a sEH–eNOS complex, which was abolished by treatment with a c-Src kinase inhibitor, PP1, or the c-Src dominant-negative mutant K298M. We also demonstrated that the phosphatase domain of sEH played a key role in VEGF-induced angiogenesis by detecting the tube formation in ECs and neovascularization in Matrigel plugs in mice.
In addition to epoxide hydrolase activity, phosphatase activity of sEH plays a pivotal role in the regulation of eNOS activity and NO-mediated EC functions.
Soluble epoxide hydrolase; Endothelial nitric oxide synthase; Phosphatase; c-Src kinase; Angiogenesis
We investigate the role of mitochondrial oxidative stress in mitochondrial proteome remodelling using mouse models of heart failure induced by pressure overload.
Methods and results
We demonstrate that mice overexpressing catalase targeted to mitochondria (mCAT) attenuate pressure overload-induced heart failure. An improved method of label-free unbiased analysis of the mitochondrial proteome was applied to the mouse model of heart failure induced by transverse aortic constriction (TAC). A total of 425 mitochondrial proteins were compared between wild-type and mCAT mice receiving TAC or sham surgery. The changes in the mitochondrial proteome in heart failure included decreased abundance of proteins involved in fatty acid metabolism, an increased abundance of proteins in glycolysis, apoptosis, mitochondrial unfolded protein response and proteolysis, transcription and translational control, and developmental processes as well as responses to stimuli. Overexpression of mCAT better preserved proteins involved in fatty acid metabolism and attenuated the increases in apoptotic and proteolytic enzymes. Interestingly, gene ontology analysis also showed that monosaccharide metabolic processes and protein folding/proteolysis were only overrepresented in mCAT but not in wild-type mice in response to TAC.
This is the first study to demonstrate that scavenging mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) by mCAT not only attenuates most of the mitochondrial proteome changes in heart failure, but also induces a subset of unique alterations. These changes represent processes that are adaptive to the increased work and metabolic requirements of pressure overload, but which are normally inhibited by overproduction of mitochondrial ROS.
Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; Proteome; Pressure overload; Cardiomyopathy
Myocardial infarction (MI) is associated with irreversible loss of viable cardiomyocytes. Cell therapy is a potential option to replace the lost cardiomyocytes and restore cardiac function. However, cell therapy is faced with a number of challenges, including survival of the transplanted cells in the infarct region, which is characterized by abundant levels of oxidants and lack of a pro-survival support mechanism. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the effect of supplemental oxygenation on cell engraftment and functional recovery in a rat model.
Methods and results
MI was induced in rats by a 60-min occlusion of the coronary artery, followed by restoration of flow. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), isolated from adult rat bone marrow, were transplanted in the MI region. Rats with transplanted MSCs were exposed to hyperbaric oxygen (HBO: 100% O2, 2 atmospheres absolute) for 90 min, 5 days/week for 4 weeks. The experimental groups were: MI (control), Ox (MI + HBO), MSC (MI + MSC), and MSC + Ox (MI + MSC + HBO). HBO exposure (oxygenation) was started 3 days after induction of MI. MSCs were transplanted 1 week after induction of MI. Echocardiography showed a significant recovery of cardiac function in the MSC + Ox group, when compared with the MI or MSC group. Oxygenation increased the engraftment of MSCs and vascular density in the infarct region. Molecular analysis of infarct tissue showed a four-fold increase in NOS3 expression in the MSC + Ox group compared with the MI group.
The results showed that post-MI exposure of rats to daily cycles of hyperoxygenation (oxygen cycling) improved stem cell engraftment, cardiac function, and increased NOS3 expression.
Mesenchymal stem cell; Hyperbaric oxygen; Myocardial infarction; Stem cell therapy; Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimer composed of HIF-1α and HIF-1β subunits. HIF-1 is known to promote tissue vascularization by activating the transcription of genes encoding angiogenic factors, which bind to receptors on endothelial cells (ECs) and bone marrow-derived angiogenic cells (BMDACs). In this study, we analysed whether HIF-1 activity in the responding ECs and BMDACs is also required for cutaneous vascularization during burn wound healing.
Methods and results
We generated mice with floxed alleles at the Hif1a or Arnt locus encoding HIF-1α and HIF-1β, respectively. Expression of Cre recombinase was driven by the Tie2 gene promoter, which is expressed in ECs and bone marrow cells. Tie2Cre+ and Tie2Cre− mice were subjected to burn wounds of reproducible diameter and depth. Deficiency of HIF-1α or HIF-1β in Tie2-lineage cells resulted in delayed wound closure, reduced vascularization, decreased cutaneous blood flow, impaired BMDAC mobilization, and decreased BMDAC homing to burn wounds.
HIF-1 activity in Tie2-lineage cells is required for the mobilization and homing of BMDACs to cutaneous burn wounds and for the vascularization of burn wound tissue.
Hypoxia; Wound healing; Conditional knockout; Angiogenesis
Autoantibodies against second extracellular loops of β1-adrenergic receptors frequent in dilated cardiomyopathy confer myocardial dysfunction presumably via cAMP stimulation. Here, we investigate the autoantibody impact on receptor conformation and function.
Methods and results
IgG was prepared from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, matched healthy donors (10 each) or commercial IgG preparations (2). IgG binding to β1-adrenergic receptor peptides was detected in 5 of 10 patients and 2 of 10 controls. IgG colocalization with the native receptor was detected in 8 of 10 patients and 1 of 10 controls (10 of 10 patients and 7 of 10 controls at >30 mg IgG/L). All IgGs exhibiting receptor colocalization triggered changes in receptor conformation (determined with fluorescent sensors) not stringently correlated to cAMP stimulation, suggesting the induction of more or less active receptor conformations. Receptor-activating IgG was detected in 8 of 10 patients but only 1 of 10 controls. In addition, IgG from 8 of 10 patients and 3 of 10 controls attenuated receptor internalization (measured by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy). IgG-inducing inactive receptor conformations had no effect on subsequent cAMP stimulation by isoproterenol. IgG-inducing active receptor conformations dampened or augmented subsequent cAMP stimulation by isoproterenol, depending on whether receptor internalization was attenuated or not. Corresponding IgG effects on the basal beating rate and chronotropic isoproterenol response of embryonic human cardiomyocytes were observed.
(i) Autoantibodies trigger conformation changes in the β1-adrenergic receptor molecule. (ii) Some also attenuate receptor internalization. (iii) Combinations thereof increase the basal beating rate of cardiomyocytes and optionally entail dampening of their chronotropic catecholamine responses. (iv) The latter effects seem specific for patient autoantibodies, which also have higher levels.
β1-Adrenergic receptors; Receptor conformation; Autoantibodies; Dilated cardiomyopathy; Human embryonic cardiomyocytes
Although a major mechanism for cardioprotection is altered metabolism, little is known regarding metabolic changes in ischaemic preconditioning and subsequent ischaemia. Our objective was to examine the effects of the second window of preconditioning (SWOP), the delayed phase of preconditioning against infarction and stunning, on long-chain free fatty acid (LCFA) oxidation during ischaemia in chronically instrumented, conscious pigs.
Methods and results
We studied three groups: (i) normal baseline perfusion (n = 5); (ii) coronary artery stenosis (CAS; n = 5); (iii) CAS 24 h following 2 × 10 min coronary occlusions and 10 min reperfusion (n = 7). Ischaemia was induced by a left anterior descending (LAD) stenosis (40% flow reduction) for 90 min, dropping systolic wall thickening by 72%. LCFA oxidation was assessed following LAD infusion of 13C palmitate, i.e. during control or stenosis, by in vitro nuclear magnetic resonance of the sampled myocardium. Stenosis reduced subendocardial blood flow subendocardially, but not subepicardial, yet induced transmural reductions in LCFA oxidation and increased non-oxidative glycolysis. During stenosis, preconditioned hearts showed normalized contributions of LCFA to oxidative ATP synthesis, despite increased lactate accumulation. SWOP induced a shift towards LCFA oxidation during stenosis, despite increased malonyl-CoA, and marked protection of contractile function with a significant improvement in systolic wall thickening.
Thus, the second window of preconditioning normalized oxidative metabolism of LCFA during subsequent ischaemia despite elevated non-oxidative glycolysis and malonyl-CoA and was linked to protection of regional contractile function resulting in improved mechanical performance. Interestingly, the metabolic responses occurred transmurally while ischaemia was restricted solely to the subendocardium.
Mitochondria; Coronary stenosis; Long-chain fatty acids; β-Oxidation; Ischaemic preconditioning