In JoVE (2)

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Articles by Thomas Eschenhagen in JoVE

 JoVE Bioengineering

Bioluminescence Imaging for Assessment of Immune Responses Following Implantation of Engineered Heart Tissue (EHT)

1Transplant and Stem Cell Immunobiology Lab (TSI) and CVRC, University Hospital Hamburg, University Heart Center Hamburg, 2Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Heart Center Hamburg, 3CT Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine

JoVE 2605

Other articles by Thomas Eschenhagen on PubMed

3D Engineered Heart Tissue for Replacement Therapy

Basic Research in Cardiology. 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12479248

Myocardial infarction results in irreversible loss of cardiac myocytes and heart failure. Tissue or cell grafting offers the prospect of reintroducing contractile elements into impaired hearts. However, implanted cardiac myocytes remain physically and electrically isolated from the viable myocardium. Accordingly, the proof of increased contractile function attributable specifically to cell grafting procedures is sparse. Over the last few years, we have developed a new method to generate three-dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHTs) in vitro from embryonic chick or neonatal rat cardiac myocytes. EHTs comprise functional and morphological properties of intact myocardium. We hypothesized that EHTs, preformed in vitro into suitable geometric forms, represent appropriate graft material for in vivo tissue repair with advantages over isolated cells. Herein we describe initial results from implantation experiments of EHTs in the peritoneum of Fisher 344 rats. EHTs survived for at least 14 days, maintained a network of differentiated cardiac myocytes, and were strongly vascularized. Thus, the present study provides the first evidence for the general feasibility of EHTs as material for a novel tissue replacement approach.

Increased Frequency of Cytochrome P450 2D6 Poor Metabolizers Among Patients with Metoprolol-associated Adverse Effects

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Oct, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12386645

The CYP2D6 genotype is a major determinant of interindividual differences in metoprolol plasma clearance. Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) poor metabolizers exhibit 3- to 10-fold higher plasma concentrations after administration of metoprolol than extensive metabolizers. However, the impact of the CYP2D6 genotype on the occurrence of adverse effects of metoprolol remains controversial. This study addressed whether the incidence of poor metabolizers was higher in patients with metoprolol-associated adverse effects than in the German population at large.

Cardiac Grafting of Engineered Heart Tissue in Syngenic Rats

Circulation. Sep, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12354725

Cell grafting has emerged as a novel approach to treat heart diseases refractory to conventional therapy. We hypothesize that survival and functional and electrical integration of grafts may be improved by engineering cardiac tissue constructs in vitro before grafting.

Augmented Expression of Cardiotrophin-1 in Failing Human Hearts is Accompanied by Diminished Glycoprotein 130 Receptor Protein Abundance

Circulation. Sep, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12234945

Cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1), a member of the interleukin-6 superfamily, is a potent inducer of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy that prolongs myocyte survival. Although cardiac CT-1 gene expression is known to be upregulated in some animal models of congestive heart failure, the activation state of the CT-1 system in patients with congestive heart failure is unknown.

Cardiac Tissue Engineering

Transplant Immunology. May, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12180846

Recent progress in implantations of differentiated cardiac and non-cardiac cells as well as adult stem cells into the heart suggests that the irreversible loss of viable cardiac myocytes that occurs during myocardial infarction can be at least partly substituted. We evaluated an alternative approach by reconstituting cardiac tissue grafts in vitro and implanting them as spontaneously and coherently contracting tissues. For this purpose we have optimized a method to generate ring-shaped three-dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHT) in vitro from neonatal rat cardiac myocytes. When subjected to isometric force measurements in organ baths, electrically stimulated EHTs exhibit a Frank-Starling behavior, a positive inotropic response to increases in extracellular calcium, a positive inotropic and lusitropic response to isoprenaline, and a negative inotropic response to the muscarinic agonist carbachol ('accentuated antagonism'). Twitch tension under maximal calcium amounts to 1-2 mN/ mm2. Importantly, passive (resting) tension is low, yielding a ratio of active/passive tension of approximately 1.5 under basal and 14 under maximal calcium. Morphologically, EHTs represent a highly interconnected three-dimensional network of cardiac myocytes resembling loose cardiac tissue with a high fraction of binucleated cardiac myocytes, strong eosin staining and elongated centrally located nuclei. Electron microscopy demonstrated well developed sarcomeric structures, T-tubules, SR vesicles, T-tubule-SR-junctions, all types of intercellular connective structures, and a basement membrane. Thus, EHTs comprise functional and morphological properties of intact, ventricular myocardium. First implantation experiments of EHTs in the peritoneum of Fischer 344 rats showed that EHTs survived for at least 14 days, maintained a network of differentiated cardiac myocytes, and were strongly vascularized. Thus, EHTs may serve as material for a novel tissue replacement approach.

Expression of Ten RGS Proteins in Human Myocardium: Functional Characterization of an Upregulation of RGS4 in Heart Failure

Cardiovascular Research. Sep, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12176127

RGS proteins (regulators of G protein signalling) negatively regulate G protein function as GTPase activating proteins. By controlling heterotrimeric G proteins they may regulate myocardial hypertrophy and contractility. We investigated the expression of RGS proteins in the human heart and whether they take part in the pathophysiological changes of heart failure.

Effect of the CYP2D6 Genotype on Metoprolol Metabolism Persists During Long-term Treatment

Pharmacogenetics. Aug, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12172215

The beta1 selective beta-blocker metoprolol is metabolized predominantly but not exclusively by CYP2D6. Due to the polymorphism of the CYP2D6 gene, CYP2D6 activity varies markedly between individuals. Consequently, after short-term administration metoprolol plasma concentrations were found to be several fold higher in poor metabolizers than in extensive metabolizers. However, it is currently not known, whether the impact of the CYP2D6 polymorphism persists during long-term therapy, since alternate mechanisms of elimination or metabolism could be effective in this setting. The study comprised 91 Caucasian patients on long-term treatment with metoprolol (median duration of treatment 12.6 months; median daily drug dose: 47.5 mg/day). Metoprolol and alpha-OH-metoprolol plasma concentrations were assessed by HPLC. Genotyping detected the null alleles (*0): *3, *4, *5, *6, *7, *8, *12, *14, *15, the alleles *9, *10 and *41 associated with reduced enzymatic activity as well as the fully functional alleles *1 and *2. Genotype and allele frequencies were in accordance with published frequencies for the German population. The plasma metabolic ratio of metoprolol/alpha-OH-metoprolol was markedly affected by the genotype (P < 0.0001). In accordance, median adjusted metoprolol plasma concentrations were 6.2- and 3.9-fold higher in patients with *0/*0 genotypes (n = 8) and intermediate genotypes (n = 10), respectively, as compared to those with two fully functional alleles (n = 31; P < 0.01). In summary, the pronounced effect of the CYP2D6 genotype persists during long-term therapy, affecting both metabolic ratio and metoprolol plasma concentration.

Intracellular Beta-blockade: Overexpression of Galpha(i2) Depresses the Beta-adrenergic Response in Intact Myocardium

Cardiovascular Research. Aug, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12123769

Increased levels of inhibitory G proteins have been observed in heart failure, but their physiological relevance in mediating the reduced beta-adrenergic response is largely unknown.

Cardiac Ankyrin Repeat Protein, a Negative Regulator of Cardiac Gene Expression, is Augmented in Human Heart Failure

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. May, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12054667

The technique of representational difference analysis of cDNA has been applied to screen for differentially expressed genes in a canine model of pacing-induced heart failure. We identified the canine homolog of the cardiac ankyrin repeat protein (CARP) which has been shown to be involved in the regulation of the transcription of cardiac genes. To confirm the significance for human heart failure, cardiac tissue specimens obtained from non-failing donor hearts and from explanted hearts from patients with end-stage heart failure were investigated. CARP mRNA and protein levels were markedly increased in failing left ventricles. Interestingly, alterations in CARP expression were restricted to ventricular tissue and were not observed in atria. Fractionation experiments revealed that CARP was expressed predominantly in the nuclei consistent with the proposed function of CARP as a modulator of transcription. Together, these findings raise the possibility that augmented ventricular CARP expression may play a role in the pathogenesis of human heart failure.

Specific Beta(2)AR Blocker ICI 118,551 Actively Decreases Contraction Through a G(i)-coupled Form of the Beta(2)AR in Myocytes from Failing Human Heart

Circulation. May, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12034656

We have observed direct (noncatecholamine-blocking) negative inotropic effects of the selective beta(2)-adrenoceptor (AR) antagonist ICI 118,551 in myocytes from failing human ventricle. In this study we characterize the effect in parallel in human myocytes and in myocytes from animal models where beta(2)ARs or G(i) proteins are overexpressed.

Physiological Antagonism Between Ventricular Beta 1-adrenoceptors and Alpha 1-adrenoceptors but No Evidence for Beta 2- and Beta 3-adrenoceptor Function in Murine Heart

British Journal of Pharmacology. May, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12010770

1. Murine left atrium lacks inotropic beta(2)-adrenoceptor function. We investigated whether beta(2)-adrenoceptors are involved in the cardiostimulant effects of (-)-adrenaline on spontaneously beating right atria and paced right ventricular myocardium of C57BL6 mice. We also studied a negative inotropic effect of (-)-adrenaline. 2. Sinoatrial tachycardia, evoked by (-)-adrenaline was resistant to blockade by beta(2)-selective ICI 118,551 (50 nM) but antagonized by beta(1)-selective CGP 20712A (300 nM). This pattern was unaffected by pretreatment with pertussis toxin (PTX, 600 microg kg(-1) i.p. 24 h) which reversed carbachol-evoked bradycardia to tachycardia. 3. Increases of ventricular force by (-)-adrenaline and (-)-noradrenaline were not blocked by ICI 118,551 but antagonized by CGP 20712A. 4. Under blockade of beta-adrenoceptors, (-)-adrenaline and (-)-noradrenaline depressed ventricular force (-logIC(50)M=7.7 and 6.9). The cardiodepressant effects of (-)-adrenaline were antagonized by phentolamine (1 microM) and prazosin (1 microM) but not by (-)-bupranolol (1 microM). Prazosin potentiated the positive inotropic effects of (-)-adrenaline (in the absence of beta-blockers) from -logEC(50)M=6.2 - 6.8. 5. PTX-treatment reduced carbachol-evoked depression of ventricular force in the presence of high catecholamine concentrations. Inhibition of ventricular function of G(i) protein was verified by 82% reduction of in vitro ADP-ribosylation. PTX-treatment tended to increase the positive inotropic potency of (-)-adrenaline under all conditions investigated, including the presence of ICI 118,551. 6. (-)-Adrenaline causes murine cardiostimulation through beta(1)-adrenoceptors but not through beta(2)-adrenoceptors. The negative inotropic effects of (-)-adrenaline are mediated through ventricular alpha(1)-adrenoceptors but not through beta(3)-adrenoceptors. Both G(i) protein and alpha(1)-adrenoceptors restrain (-)-adrenaline-evoked increases in right ventricular force mediated through beta(1)-adrenoceptors.

Inhibition of Left Ventricular Fibrosis by Tranilast in Rats with Renovascular Hypertension

Journal of Hypertension. Apr, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11910312

Growth factors such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta) are believed to have an essential role in cardiac fibrosis. Tranilast (N(3,4-dimethoxycinnamoyl) anthranilic acid) attenuates the increased expression of TGF beta mRNA in vitro.

Activation of the Cardiac Endothelin System in Left Ventricular Hypertrophy Before Onset of Heart Failure in TG(mREN2)27 Rats

Cardiovascular Research. Feb, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11827687

To characterize the cardiac angiotensin and endothelin (ET) system in compensated left ventricular hypertrophy due to long standing arterial hypertension and to assess the role of angiotensin and ET converting enzymes in mediating the observed changes of angiotensin and ET levels, respectively.

Norepinephrine Upregulates Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Rat Cardiac Myocytes by a Paracrine Mechanism

Angiogenesis. 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 15166499

Norepinephrine has growth-promoting effects in cardiac myocytes. The present study in cultured neonatal rat cardiac myocytes tested the hypothesis that norepinephrine also stimulates expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an important angiogenic factor. As assessed by polymerase chain reaction cardiac myocytes and non-myocytes expressed all three isoforms of rat VEGF, with the short isoform (VEGF 121 ) preferentially expressed in non-myocytes. When cardiac myocytes were stimulated with 1 micro M norepinephrine for 24 h in the presence or absence of the specific alpha - and beta -adrenoceptor antagonists prazosin and propranolol, respectively, VEGF mRNA levels and splice variant pattern did not change, whereas atrial natriuretic peptide mRNA levels increased 3 to 4-fold. CoCl(2) increased VEGF mRNA levels in cardiac myocytes five-fold. When cardiac myocytes were cultured with conditioned medium from non-myocytes that had been stimulated with norepinephrine for 24 h VEGF mRNA increased 2-fold. The increase was blocked by antibodies neutralizing TGF beta. These data suggest that norepinephrine stimulates myocardial angiogenesis by a paracrine mechanism that involves cardiac non-myocytes and TGF beta.

Inhibitory G-proteins and Their Role in Desensitization of the Adenylyl Cyclase Pathway in Heart Failure

Cardiovascular Research. Dec, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14659793

Heart failure is accompanied by stereotypic alterations in cardiac gene expression. These changes are most likely secondary in the pathogenesis and can be viewed as protective, e.g. as energy-saving mechanisms, but at the same time, they aggravate contractile dysfunction and the deficit of failing cardiac myocytes to respond to altered hemodynamic needs. One of the best-studied, paradigmatic examples of this dichotomy is heterologous desensitization of the cardiac adenylyl cyclase (AC) signaling pathway. It protects against detrimental consequences of the excessive adrenergic drive, but it also blunts the most powerful inotropic support of the heart. Desensitization is associated with downregulation of beta-adrenergic receptors, increased beta-adrenoceptor kinases and increased inhibitory G protein alpha-subunits, G(alphai). Whereas a causative role of the former is generally accepted, the role of the increase in G(alphai) has remained controversial for many years. The present article summarizes early and novel findings that, in the view of the authors, provide solid evidence for G(alphai) to play an important role in the adaptation of cardiac AC to various pathophysiological conditions.

Tissue Engineering of Aortic Heart Valves

Cardiovascular Research. Dec, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14659789

What is the Role of Beta-adrenergic Signaling in Heart Failure?

Circulation Research. Nov, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14615493

This review addresses open questions about the role of beta-adrenergic receptors in cardiac function and failure. Cardiomyocytes express all three beta-adrenergic receptor subtypes-beta1, beta2, and, at least in some species, beta3. The beta1 subtype is the most prominent one and is mainly responsible for positive chronotropic and inotropic effects of catecholamines. The beta2 subtype also increases cardiac function, but its ability to activate nonclassical signaling pathways suggests a function distinct from the beta1 subtype. In heart failure, the sympathetic system is activated, cardiac beta-receptor number and function are decreased, and downstream mechanisms are altered. However, in spite of a wealth of data, we still do not know whether and to what extent these alterations are adaptive/protective or detrimental, or both. Clinically, beta-adrenergic antagonists represent the most important advance in heart failure therapy, but it is still debated whether they act by blocking or by resensitizing the beta-adrenergic receptor system. Newer experimental therapeutic strategies aim at the receptor desensitization machinery and at downstream signaling steps.

Differential Coupling of M-cholinoceptors to Gi/Go-proteins in Failing Human Myocardium

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Oct, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14519434

Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) mediate their main cardiac effects via pertussis toxin-sensitive G-proteins. Physiological effects differ considerably between atrium and ventricle, and it is unknown to which extent these differences derive from selective receptor-G-protein coupling or further downstream events. We have characterized specific coupling between mAChRs and Gi/Go-protein isoforms in atrial and ventricular myocardium by agonist-dependent photoaffinity labeling with [(32)P]azidoanilido GTP (aaGTP) and immunoprecipitation in sarcolemmal membranes from terminally failing human hearts. The total amount of mAChRs, as determined by specific binding of [(3)H]QNB, was significantly higher in right-atrial (RA +/- SEM, 959 +/- 68 fmol/mg, n = 4) than in left-ventricular membranes (LV, 582 +/- 53 fmol/mg, n = 6). Standardized immunoblots revealed that Gialpha-2 was the predominant subtype in both regions. A 40-kDa splice variant of Goalpha (Goalpha-1 and/or Goalpha-3) was almost exclusively detectable in RA. Levels of Gialpha-3 and a 39-kDa splice variant of Goalpha (Goalpha-2) were also higher in RA. Basal aaGTP binding was higher in RA than in LV for all Gialpha/Goalpha subtypes. The carbachol (10 micromol/l)-induced increase in aaGTP binding was significantly higher in RA than in LV for Goalpha-1/3 (336 +/- 95% of LV, n = 4) and for Gialpha-3 (211 +/- 83%), lower for Gialpha-2 (42 +/- 5%), and was similar in both regions for Goalpha-2 (130 +/- 62%). The differential coupling of mAChRs in human RA and LV suggests that the initiation of different physiological responses to mAChR stimulation starts with signal sorting at the receptor-G-protein level.

Heme Oxygenase-1 and Its Reaction Product, Carbon Monoxide, Prevent Inflammation-related Apoptotic Liver Damage in Mice

Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.). Oct, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14512878

Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a stress-responsive enzyme that catabolizes heme into carbon monoxide (CO), biliverdin, and iron, has previously been shown to protect grafts from ischemia/reperfusion injury and rejection. Here we investigated the protective potential of HO-1 in 5 models of immune-mediated liver injury. We found that up-regulation of endogenous HO-1 by cobalt-protoporphyrin-IX (CoPP) protected mice from apoptotic liver damage induced by anti-CD95 antibody (Ab) or d-galactosamine in combination with either anti-CD3 Ab, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). HO-1 induction prevented apoptotic liver injury, measured by inhibition of caspase 3 activation, although it did not protect mice from caspase-3-independent necrotic liver damage caused by concanavalin A (Con A) administration. In addition, overexpression of HO-1 by adenoviral gene transfer resulted in protection from apoptotic liver injury, whereas inhibition of HO-1 enzymatic activity by tin-protoporphyrin-IX (SnPP) abrogated the protective effect. HO-1-mediated protection seems to target parenchymal liver cells directly because CoPP treatment protected isolated primary hepatocytes from anti-CD95-induced apoptosis in vitro. Furthermore, depletion of Kupffer cells (KCs) did not interfere with the protective effect in vivo. Exogenous CO administration or treatment with the CO-releasing agent methylene chloride mimicked the protective effect of HO-1, whereas treatment with exogenous biliverdin or overexpression of ferritin by recombinant adenoviral gene transfer did not. In conclusion, HO-1 is a potent protective factor for cytokine- and CD95-mediated apoptotic liver damage. Induction of HO-1 might be of a therapeutic modality for inflammatory liver diseases.

Beta-adrenergic Stimulation Induces Cardiac Ankyrin Repeat Protein Expression: Involvement of Protein Kinase A and Calmodulin-dependent Kinase

Cardiovascular Research. Sep, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14499857

The cardiac ankyrin repeat protein (CARP), a nuclear transcription co-factor that negatively regulates cardiac gene expression, is increased in human heart failure and in animal models of cardiac hypertrophy. The mechanism by which CARP expression is regulated and the consequences of CARP overexpression on cardiac contractility are unknown.

Cardiac Tissue Engineering for Replacement Therapy

Heart Failure Reviews. Jul, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12878835

Cell therapy is a new concept to repair diseased organs. For patients with myocardial infarction, heart failure, and congenital heart diseases cell based therapies might represent a potential cure. The field can be subdivided into two principally different approaches: (1) Implantation of isolated cells and (2) implantation of in vitro engineered tissue constructs. This review will focus on the latter approach. Cardiac tissue engineering comprises the fields of material sciences and cell biology. In general, scaffold materials such as gelatin, collagen, alginate, or synthetic polymers and cardiac cells are utilized to reconstitute tissue-like constructs in vitro. Ideally, these constructs display properties of native myocardium such as coherent contractions, low diastolic tension, and syncytial propagation of action potentials. To be applicable for surgical repair of diseased myocardium engineered tissue constructs should have the propensity to integrate and remain contractile in vivo. Size and mechanical properties of engineered constructs are critical for surgical repair of large tissue defects. Successful application of tissue engineering in men will depend on the utilization of an autologous or non-immunogeneic cell source and scaffold material to avoid life long immunosuppression. This review will give an overview of recent approaches in cardiac tissue engineering and its first applications in vivo. We will discuss materials and cell sources for cardiac tissue engineering. Further, principle obstacles will be addressed. Cardiac tissue engineering for replacement therapy has an intriguing perspective, but is in its early days. Its true value remains to be thoroughly evaluated.

Overexpression of Wild-type Galpha(i)-2 Suppresses Beta-adrenergic Signaling in Cardiac Myocytes

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Mar, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12631586

The role of Galpha(i)-2 overexpression in desensitization of beta-adrenergic signaling in heart failure is controversial. An adenovirus-based approach was used to investigate whether overexpression of Galpha(i)-2 impairs beta-adrenergic stimulation of adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity and cAMP levels in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes (NRCM) and cell shortening of adult rat ventricular myocytes (ARVM). Infection of NRCM with Ad5Galpha(i)-2 increased Galpha(i)-2 by 50-600% in a virus dose-dependent manner. Overexpression was paralleled by suppression of GTP- and isoprenaline-stimulated AC by 10-72% (P<0.001) in a PTX-sensitive manner. Isoprenaline-stimulated shortening of Ad5Galpha(i)-2-infected ARVM was attenuated by 34% (P<0.01). Ad5Galpha(i)-2/GFP (Galpha(i)-2, green fluorescent protein; bicistronic) was constructed to monitor transfection homogeneity and target Galpha(i)-2 overexpression to levels found in heart failure. At Galpha(i)-2 levels of 93% above control, isoprenaline-stimulated AC activity and cAMP levels were reduced by 17% and 40% (P<0.02), respectively. Beta1- and beta2-adrenergic stimulation was reduced similarly. Our results suggest that (a) the Galpha(i)-2 system exhibits tonic inhibition of stimulated AC in cardiac myocytes, (b) Galpha(i)-2-mediated inhibition is concentration-dependent and occurs at Galpha(i)-2 levels seen in heart failure, and (c) Galpha(i)-2-mediated inhibition affects both beta1- and beta2-adrenergic stimulation of AC. The data argue for an important, independent role of the Galpha(i)-2 increase in heart failure.

Evidence for Protein Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 Playing an Amplifier Role in Beta-adrenergic Signaling in Cardiac Myocytes

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Mar, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12514122

The protein phosphatase inhibitor-1 (PPI-1) inhibits phosphatase type-1 (PP1) only when phosphorylated by protein kinase A and could play a pivotal role in the phosphorylation/dephosphorylation balance. Rat cardiac PPI-1 was cloned by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, expressed in Eschericia coli, evaluated in phosphatase assays, and used to generate an antiserum. An adenovirus was constructed encoding PPI-1 and green fluorescent protein (GFP) under separate cytomegalovirus promotors (AdPPI-1/GFP). A GFP-only virus (AdGFP) served as control. Engineered heart tissue (EHT) from neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and adult rat cardiac myocytes (ARCMs) were used as model systems. PPI-1 expression was determined in human ventricular samples by Northern blots. Compared with AdGFP, AdPPI-1/GFP-infected neonatal rat cardiomyocytes displayed a 73% reduction in PP1 activity. EHTs infected with AdPPI-1/GFP exhibited a fivefold increase in isoprenaline sensitivity. AdPPI-1/GFP-infected ARCMs displayed enhanced cell shortening as well as enhanced phospholamban phosphorylation when stimulated with 1 nM isoprenaline. PPI-1 mRNA levels were reduced by 57+/-12% in failing hearts with dilated and ischemic cardiomyopathy (n=8 each) compared with nonfailing hearts (n=8). In summary, increased PPI-1 expression enhances myocyte sensitivity to isoprenaline, indicating that PPI-1 acts as an amplifier in beta-adrenergic signaling. Decreased PPI-1 in failing human hearts could participate in desensitization of the cAMP pathway.

[Beta Blockers in Cardiac Insufficiency. When, How Much and Which Substance]

Medizinische Monatsschrift Für Pharmazeuten. Dec, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15646690

Effect of Amiodarone on the Plasma Levels of Metoprolol

The American Journal of Cardiology. Nov, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15541258

On average, metoprolol plasma concentration is doubled after an amiodarone loading dose (1.2 g/day over a period of 6 days). However, the individual amount of this drug interaction depends on the CYP2D6 genotype.

CYP2D6 Genotype: Impact on Adverse Effects and Nonresponse During Treatment with Antidepressants-a Pilot Study

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. May, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15116051

Treatment with antidepressants is frequently associated with adverse effects or insufficient clinical response. Several antidepressants are metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D6. The activity of this enzyme markedly varies among individuals from poor to ultrarapid metabolism on the basis of the polymorphism of the CYP2D6 gene. This association study investigated whether the CYP2D6 genotype distribution differs from that of the German white population either in patients with marked adverse effects or in nonresponders during treatment with antidepressants metabolized by CYP2D6.

Ouabain Treatment is Associated with Upregulation of Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 and Na+/Ca(2+)-exchanger and Beta-adrenergic Sensitization in Rat Hearts

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. May, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15110776

Cardiac glycosides are widely used in the treatment of congestive heart failure. While the mechanism of the positive inotropic effect after acute application of cardiac glycosides is explained by blockade of the Na+/K+-pump, little is known about consequences of a prolonged therapy. Here male Wistar rats were treated for 4 days with continuous infusions of ouabain (6.5 mg/kg/day) or 0.9% NaCl (control) via osmotic minipumps. Electrically driven (1 Hz, 35 degrees C) papillary muscles from ouabain-treated rats exhibited shorter relaxation time (-15%) and a twofold increase in the sensitivity for the positive inotropic effect of isoprenaline. The density and affinity of beta1- and beta2-adrenoceptors as well as mRNA and protein levels of stimulatory (G(s)alpha) and inhibitory (G(i)alpha-2, G(i)alpha-3) G-proteins were unaffected by ouabain. Similarly, SR-Ca2+-ATPase 2A, phospholamban, ryanodine-receptor expression as well as the oxalate-stimulated 45Ca-uptake of membrane vesicles remained unchanged. However, mRNA abundance of the protein phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1) and the Na+/Ca2+-exchanger (NCX) were increased by 52% and 26%, respectively. I-1 plays an amplifier role in cardiac signaling. Downregulation of I-1 in human heart failure is associated with desensitization of the beta-adrenergic signaling pathway. The present data suggest that the ouabain-induced increase in I-1 expression might be at least partly responsible for the increased isoprenaline sensitivity and increased expression of NCX for the accelerated relaxation after chronic ouabain in this model.

S100A1 Gene Transfer: a Strategy to Strengthen Engineered Cardiac Grafts

The Journal of Gene Medicine. Apr, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15079813

Cardiac tissue replacement therapy, although a promising novel approach for the potential treatment of heart failure, still suffers from insufficient contractile support to the failing myocardium. Here, we explore a strategy to improve contractile properties of engineered heart tissue (EHT) by S100A1 gene transfer.

Effects of Chronic Endothelin-1 Stimulation on Cardiac Myocyte Contractile Function

American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology. Apr, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15020300

Endothelin-1 (ET-1) has acute positive inotropic effects, but consequences of chronically increased ET-1 on contractile function of cardiac myocytes are largely unknown. In the present study, effects of long-term treatment with ET-1 (10 nM) for 5 days on both force development [force of contraction (FOC)] and kinetics of contraction were determined in heart tissue reconstituted from rat cardiac cells. Isometric force was measured in response to cumulative concentrations of Ca(2+) and isoprenaline. ET-1 augmented basal FOC by 64 +/- 11% (P < 0.05), which was associated with a significantly blunted contractile response to Ca(2+) and isoprenaline. Moreover, ET-1 significantly prolonged relaxation (62 +/- 3 vs. 53 +/- 2 ms). Selective ET(A) (BQ-123) and ET(B) receptor blockade (BQ-788) demonstrated that effects of ET-1 on contractile function were mediated through the ET(A) receptor subtype. Effects of ET-1 were prevented by cotreatment with either Ro31-8425, a PKC inhibitor, or dimethylamiloride, an inhibitor of the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger. In contrast to long-term ET-1 treatment, no changes in contractile parameters were observed after ET-1 treatment for 3 h before force measurement. These data suggest that chronic ET-1 stimulation has dual effects on contractility: improvement of basal force but impairment of twitch kinetics and inotropic responsiveness to beta-adrenoceptor stimulation. The signaling pathways involved include ET(A) receptors, PKC, and the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger. The present in vitro findings raise the possibility that ET-1 may exert both adaptive and maladaptive effects in the failing myocardium in which local accumulation of ET-1 is present.

Formation of Molecular Complexes by N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptor Subunit NR2B and Ryanodine Receptor 2 in Neonatal Rat Myocard

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. May, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15010472

The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is a glutamate gated cation channel prevalent in the postsynaptic membranes of central nervous system neurons. The neurotransmitter receptor complex is thought to represent a tetramer where variable NR2 or NR3 polypeptides form heteromeric assemblies with an obligatory NR1 subunit. Recently, we showed that cardiac myocytes from perinatal rats transiently express the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B, the function of which in heart is unknown. To characterize the cardiac NR2B protein, we determined its subcellular distribution and specific molecular interaction partners. By immunostaining of rat heart tissue slices and acutely dissociated cardiac myocytes, the NR2B antigen was localized at the sarcomeric Z-bands. Using immunoprecipitation of detergent-solubilized NR2B protein and subsequent analysis employing matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry, ryanodine receptor 2 was identified as a molecular interaction partner of the cardiac NR2B polypeptide. Differences in antibody recognition indicate that the cardiac NR2B polypeptide carries a structurally altered C terminus as compared with the NR2B variant prevalent in central nervous system. Based on its localization and protein interaction, the function of cardiac NR2B protein may relate to mechanosensitivity or play a role in the regulation of the contractile apparatus of neonatal heart.

Human Homozygous R403W Mutant Cardiac Myosin Presents Disproportionate Enhancement of Mechanical and Enzymatic Properties

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Mar, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15010274

Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) is associated with mutations in 11 genes encoding sarcomeric proteins. Most families present mutations in MYBPC3 and MYH7 encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein C and beta-myosin heavy chain. The consequences of MYH7 mutations have been extensively studied at the molecular level, but controversial results have been obtained with either reduced or augmented myosin motor function depending on the type or homogeneity of myosin studied. In the present study, we took advantage of the accessibility to an explanted heart to analyze for the first time the properties of human homozygous mutant myosin. The patient exhibited eccentric hypertrophy with severely impaired ejection fraction leading to heart transplantation, and carries a homozygous mutation in MYH7 (R403W) and a heterozygous variant in MYBPC3 (V896M). In situ analysis of the left ventricular tissue showed myocyte disarray and hypertrophy plus interstitial fibrosis. In vitro motility assays showed a small, but significant increase in sliding velocity of fluorescent-labeled actin filaments over human mutant cardiac myosin-coated surface compared to control (+18%; P<0.001). Mutant myosin exhibited a large increase in maximal actin-activated ATPase activity (+114%; P<0.05) and Km for actin (+87%; P<0.05) when compared to control. These data show disproportionate enhancement of mechanical and enzymatic properties of human mutant myosin. This suggests inefficient ATP utilization and reduced mechanical efficiency in the myocardial tissue of the patient, which could play an important role in the development of FHC phenotype.

Decreased Protein and Phosphorylation Level of the Protein Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 in Failing Human Hearts

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 14732205

The protein phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1) is a highly specific and potent inhibitor of type 1 phosphatases (PP1) that is active only in its protein kinase A (PKA)-phosphorylated form. I-1 ablation decreases, I-1 overexpression sensitizes beta-adrenergic signaling in the heart. It is controversial whether I-1 expression is altered in human heart failure (HF), likely because its detection in heart is difficult due to its low abundance.

Engineered Heart Tissue for Regeneration of Diseased Hearts

Biomaterials. Apr, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 14697865

Cardiac tissue engineering aims at providing contractile heart muscle constructs for replacement therapy in vivo. At present, most cardiac tissue engineering attempts utilize heart cells from embryonic chicken and neonatal rats and scaffold materials. Over the past years our group has developed a novel technique to engineer collagen/matrigel-based cardiac muscle constructs, which we termed engineered heart tissue (EHT). EHT display functional and morphological properties of differentiated heart muscle and can be constructed in different shape and size from collagen type I, extracellular matrix proteins (Matrigel((R))), and heart cells from neonatal rats and embryonic chicken. First implantation studies in syngeneic Fischer 344 rats provided evidence of EHT survival and integration in vivo. This review will focus on our experience in tissue engineering of cardiac muscle. Mainly, EHT construction, matrix requirements, potential applications of different cell types including stem cells, and our first implantation experiences will be discussed. Despite many critical and unresolved questions, we believe that cardiac tissue engineering in general has an interesting perspective for the replacement of malfunctioning myocardium and reconstruction of congenital malformations.

Engineering Myocardial Tissue

Circulation Research. Dec, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16339494

To create an artificial heart is one of the most ambitious dreams of the young field of tissue engineering, a dream that, when publicly announced in 1999 (LIFE initiative around M. Sefton), provoked as much compassion as scepticism in the scientific and lay press. Today, it is fair to state that the field is still far away from having built the "bioartificial heart." Nevertheless, substantial progress has been made over the past 10 years, and a realistic perspective exists to create 3-dimensional heart muscle equivalents that may not only serve as experimental models but could also be useful for cardiac regeneration.

Questioning the Relevance of Circulating Cardiac Progenitor Cells in Cardiac Regeneration

Cardiovascular Research. Dec, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16253213

Endothelin-1 and Isoprenaline Co-stimulation Causes Contractile Failure Which is Partially Reversed by MEK Inhibition

Cardiovascular Research. Dec, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16040022

The mitogen-activated kinase kinases (MEK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) signaling pathway is activated by agonists like catecholamines or endothelin-1 (ET-1) and has been implicated in cardiac pathology, such as the progression from cardiac hypertrophy to failure. The purpose of the present study, performed in an in vitro model of contractile failure, was to evaluate whether MEK inhibition prevents functional deterioration.

Differential Functional Effects of Two 5-HT4 Receptor Isoforms in Adult Cardiomyocytes

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Aug, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15950987

Serotonin 5-HT4 receptors are present in human atrial myocytes and have been proposed to contribute to the generation of atrial fibrillation. However, 5-HT4 receptors have so far been only found in human and pig atria and are absent from the heart of small laboratory animals, such as rat, guinea pig, rabbit and frog, which limits the experimental settings for studying their functional properties. In this study, we developed an adenovirus expression system to examine the properties of two human 5-HT4 receptor splice variants, h5-HT4(b) and h5-HT4(d), expressed in adult cardiomyocytes devoid of native 5-HT4 receptors. When expressed in the HL-1 murine cell line of atrial origin, both receptors caused specific binding of the 5-HT4 selective antagonist GR113808 and activated adenylyl cyclase in the presence of serotonin (5-HT, 1 microM). When expressed in freshly isolated adult rat ventricular cardiomyocytes, a stimulation of the L-type Ca2+ current (ICa,L) by 5-HT (100 nM) was revealed. Both effects were blocked by GR113808. In HL-1 cells, the h5-HT4(d) receptor was found to be more efficiently coupled to adenylyl cyclase than the h5-HT4(b). Pertussis toxin treatment (250 ng/ml for 5 h) potentiated the stimulatory effect of 5-HT on ICa,L in rat myocytes expressing the h5-HT4(b) but not the h5-HT4(d) receptor, indicating a likely coupling of the (b) isoform to both Gs and Gi/o proteins. Adenoviral expression of h5-HT4 receptor isoforms in adult cardiac myocytes provides a valuable means for the exploration of the receptor signaling cascades in normal and pathological situations.

Impairment of the Ubiquitin-proteasome System by Truncated Cardiac Myosin Binding Protein C Mutants

Cardiovascular Research. Apr, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15769446

Most cardiac myosin binding protein C (cMyBP-C) gene mutations causing familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) result in C-terminal truncated proteins. However, truncated cMyBP-Cs were undetectable in myocardial tissue of FHC patients. In the present study, we investigated whether truncated cMyBP-Cs are subject to accelerated degradation by the lysosome or ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS).

Key Role of Myosin Light Chain (MLC) Kinase-mediated MLC2a Phosphorylation in the Alpha 1-adrenergic Positive Inotropic Effect in Human Atrium

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15621049

Mechanisms of the positive inotropic response to alpha(1)-adrenergic stimulation in the heart remain poorly understood, but recent evidence in rat papillary muscle suggests an important role of regulatory myosin light chain (MLC2) phosphorylation. This study investigated alpha(1)-adrenergic contractile effects and the role of MLC kinase (MLCK)-dependent phosphorylation of MLC2 in human atrial muscle strips.

The 2988G>A Polymorphism Affects Splicing of a CYP2D6 Minigene

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Nov, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17112815

High-dose Methotrexate in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Impact of ABCC2 Polymorphisms on Plasma Concentrations

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Nov, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17112803

The adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette (ABC) class transporter ABCC2 (MRP2 [multidrug resistance related protein 2] or cMOAT [canalicular multispecific organic anion transporter]) is involved in the cellular outward transport and elimination of methotrexate. We hypothesized that common genetic variations may contribute to the variability of high-dose methotrexate pharmacokinetics.

Molecular Determinants of Altered Ca2+ Handling in Human Chronic Atrial Fibrillation

Circulation. Aug, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16894034

Abnormal Ca2+ handling may contribute to impaired atrial contractility and arrhythmogenesis in human chronic atrial fibrillation (cAF). Here, we assessed the phosphorylation levels of key proteins involved in altered Ca2+ handling and contractility in cAF patients.

Optimizing Engineered Heart Tissue for Therapeutic Applications As Surrogate Heart Muscle

Circulation. Jul, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16820649

Cardiac tissue engineering aims at providing heart muscle for cardiac regeneration. Here, we hypothesized that engineered heart tissue (EHT) can be improved by using mixed heart cell populations, culture in defined serum-free and Matrigel-free conditions, and fusion of single-unit EHTs to multi-unit heart muscle surrogates.

The MLCK-mediated Alpha1-adrenergic Inotropic Effect in Atrial Myocardium is Negatively Modulated by PKCepsilon Signaling

British Journal of Pharmacology. Aug, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16783412

The present study examined the role of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), PKC isozymes, and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)) receptor in the positive inotropic effect of alpha(1)-adrenergic stimulation in atrial myocardium. We measured inotropic effects of phenylephrine (0.3-300 microM) in isolated left atrial preparations (1 Hz, 37 degrees C, 1.8 mM Ca(2+), 0.3 microM nadolol) from male 8-week FVB mice (n=200). Phenylephrine concentration-dependently increased force of contraction from 1.5+/-0.1 to 2.8+/-0.1 mN (mean+/-s.e.m., n=42), which was associated with increased MLC-2a phosphorylation at serine 21 and 22 by 67% and translocation of PKCepsilon but not PKCalpha to membrane (+30%) and myofilament (+50%) fractions.MLCK inhibition using ML-7 or wortmannin right-shifted the concentration-response curve of phenylephrine, reducing its inotropic effect at 10 microM by 73% and 81%, respectively. The compound KIE1-1 (500 nM), an intracellularly acting PKCepsilon translocation inhibitor peptide, prevented PKCepsilon translocation and augmented the maximal inotropic effect of phenylephrine by 40%. In contrast, inhibition of Ca(2+)-dependent PKC translocation (KIC1-1, 500 nM) had no effect. Chelerythrine, a PKC inhibitor, decreased basal force without changing the inotropic effect of phenylephrine. The IP(3) receptor blocker 2-APB (2 and 20 microM) concentration-dependently decreased basal force, but did not affect the concentration-response curve of phenylephrine. These results indicate that activation of MLCK is required for the positive inotropic effect of alpha(1)-adrenergic stimulation, that the Ca(2+)-independent PKCepsilon negatively modulates this effect, and that PKCalpha and IP(3) receptor activation is not involved.

Role of Calcineurin and Protein Phosphatase-2A in the Regulation of Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 in Cardiac Myocytes

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Aug, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16774736

Inhibitor 1 (I-1) is a protein inhibitor of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), the predominating Ser/Thr phosphatase in the heart. Non-phosphorylated I-1 is inactive, whereas I-1 phosphorylated by protein kinase A (PKA) at Thr35 is a potent PP1 inhibitor. The phosphatases that dephosphorylate I-1Thr35 and thus deactivate I-1 in the heart are not established. Here we overexpressed I-1 in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes with recombinant adenovirus and determined phosphorylation of I-1, and one of the major target proteins of PKA/PP1 in the heart, phospholamban (PLB), by Western blot with phospho-specific antibodies. Incubation with the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporine A or okadaic acid, used at a concentration preferentially inhibiting phosphatase 2A (PP2A), increased significantly I-1Thr35 (approximately 2- to 6-fold) and PLB Ser16 phosphorylation (approximately 2-fold). The results indicate that calcineurin and PP2A act to maintain a low basal level of phosphorylated (active) I-1 in living cardiac myocytes. Calcineurin may constitute a cross-talk between calcium- and cAMP-dependent pathways.

Heart Muscle Engineering: an Update on Cardiac Muscle Replacement Therapy

Cardiovascular Research. Aug, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16697358

Cardiac muscle engineering aims at providing functional myocardium to repair diseased hearts and model cardiac development, physiology, and disease in vitro. Several enabling technologies have been established over the past 10 years to create functional myocardium. Although none of the presently employed technologies yields a perfect match of natural heart muscle, it can be anticipated that human heart muscle equivalents will become available after fine tuning of currently established tissue engineering concepts. This review provides an update on the state of cardiac muscle engineering and its utilization in cardiac regeneration. We discuss the application of stem cells including the allocation of autologous cell material, transgenic technologies that may improve tissue structure as well as in vivo engraftment, and vascularization concepts. We also touch on legal and economic aspects that have to be considered before engineered myocardium may eventually be applied in patients and discuss who may be a potential recipient.

Engineered Heart Tissue Grafts Improve Systolic and Diastolic Function in Infarcted Rat Hearts

Nature Medicine. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16582915

The concept of regenerating diseased myocardium by implantation of tissue-engineered heart muscle is intriguing, but convincing evidence is lacking that heart tissues can be generated at a size and with contractile properties that would lend considerable support to failing hearts. Here we created large (thickness/diameter, 1-4 mm/15 mm), force-generating engineered heart tissue from neonatal rat heart cells. Engineered heart tissue formed thick cardiac muscle layers when implanted on myocardial infarcts in immune-suppressed rats. When evaluated 28 d later, engineered heart tissue showed undelayed electrical coupling to the native myocardium without evidence of arrhythmia induction. Moreover, engineered heart tissue prevented further dilation, induced systolic wall thickening of infarcted myocardial segments and improved fractional area shortening of infarcted hearts compared to controls (sham operation and noncontractile constructs). Thus, our study provides evidence that large contractile cardiac tissue grafts can be constructed in vitro, can survive after implantation and can support contractile function of infarcted hearts.

Electrical Coupling of Cardiac Myocyte Cell Sheets to the Heart

Circulation Research. Mar, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16543504

Atorvastatin Desensitizes Beta-adrenergic Signaling in Cardiac Myocytes Via Reduced Isoprenylation of G-protein Gamma-subunits

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16467371

Statins exert pleiotropic, cholesterol-independent effects by reducing isoprenylation of monomeric GTPases. Here we examined whether statins also reduce isoprenylation of gamma-subunits of heterotrimeric G-proteins and thereby affect beta-adrenergic signaling and regulation of force in cardiac myocytes. Neonatal rat cardiac myocytes (NRCM) were treated with atorvastatin (0.1-10 micromol/l; 12-48 h) and examined for adenylyl cyclase regulating G-protein alpha- (Galpha), beta- (Gbeta), and gamma- (Ggamma) subunits and cAMP accumulation. Engineered heart tissue (EHT) from NRCM was used to evaluate contractile consequences. In atorvastatin-treated NRCM, a second band of Ggamma3 with a lower apparent molecular weight appeared in cytosol and particulate fractions that was absent in vehicle-treated NRCM, but also seen after GGTI-298, a geranylgeranyl transferase inhibitor. In parallel, Gbeta accumulated in the cytosol and total cellular content of Galphas was reduced. In atorvastatin-treated NRCM, the cAMP-increasing effect of isoprenaline was reduced. Likewise, the positive inotropic effect of isoprenaline was desensitized and reduced after treatment with atorvastatin. The effects of atorvastatin were abolished by mevalonate and/or geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, but not by farnesyl pyrophosphate or squalene. Taken together, the results of this study show that atorvastatin desensitizes NRCM to beta-adrenergic stimulation by a mechanism that involves reduced isoprenylation of Ggamma and subsequent reductions in the cellular content of Galphas.

Alterations of the Preproenkephalin System in Cardiac Hypertrophy and Its Role in Atrioventricular Conduction

Cardiovascular Research. Feb, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16376326

The goal of this study was to investigate alterations of the endogenous opioid system in cardiac hypertrophy, to elucidate mechanisms of preproenkephalin (ppENK) gene expression, and to assess effects of endogenous opioids on myocardial contractility and atrioventricular conduction.

Long-term Beta-adrenergic Stimulation Leads to Downregulation of Protein Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 in the Heart

European Journal of Heart Failure. Nov, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17921049

Desensitization of the beta-adrenoceptor/cAMP/PKA pathway is a hallmark of heart failure. Inhibitor-1 (I-1) acts as a conditional amplifier of beta-adrenergic signalling downstream of PKA by inhibiting type-1 phosphatases in the PKA-phosphorylated form. I-1 is downregulated in failing hearts and thus presumably contributes to beta-adrenergic desensitization. To test whether I-1 downregulation is a consequence of excessive adrenergic drive in heart failure, rats were treated via minipumps with isoprenaline 2.4 mg/kg/day (ISO) or 0.9% NaCl for 4 days. As expected, chronic ISO increased heart-to-body weight ratio by approximately 40% and abolished the inotropic response to acute ISO in papillary muscles by approximately 50%. In the ISO-treated hearts I-1 mRNA and protein levels were decreased by 30% and 54%, respectively. This was accompanied by decreased phospholamban phosphorylation (-40%), a downstream target of I-1, and a reduction in 45Ca2+ uptake (-54%) in membrane vesicles. Notably, phospholamban phosphorylation correlated significantly with I-1 protein levels indicating a causal relationship. We conclude that I-1 downregulation in heart failure is likely a consequence of the increased sympathetic adrenergic drive and participates in desensitization of the beta-adrenergic signalling cascade.

Development of a Biological Ventricular Assist Device: Preliminary Data from a Small Animal Model

Circulation. Sep, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17846298

Engineered heart tissue (EHT) can be generated from cardiomyocytes and extracellular matrix proteins and used to repair local heart muscle defects in vivo. Here, we hypothesized that pouch-like heart muscle constructs can be generated by using a novel EHT-casting technology and applied as heart-embracing cardiac grafts in vivo.

Cardiac Myosin-binding Protein C is Required for Complete Relaxation in Intact Myocytes

Circulation Research. Oct, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17823372

The role of cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) in cardiac contraction is still not fully resolved. Experimental ablation of cMyBP-C by various means resulted in inconsistent changes in Ca2+ sensitivity and increased velocity of force of skinned preparations. To evaluate how these effects are integrated in an intact, living myocyte context, we investigated consequences of cMyBP-C ablation in ventricular myocytes and left atria from cMyBP-C knock-out (KO) mice compared with wild-type (WT). At 6 weeks, KO myocytes exhibited mild hypertrophy that became more pronounced by 30 weeks. Isolated cells from KO exhibited markedly lower diastolic sarcomere length (SL) without change in diastolic Ca2+. The lower SL in KO was partly abolished by the actin-myosin ATPase inhibitors 2,3-butanedione monoxime or blebbistatin, indicating residual actin-myosin interaction in diastole. The relationship between cytosolic Ca2+ and SL showed that KO cells started to contract at lower Ca2+ without reaching a higher maximum, yielding a smaller area of the phase-plane diagram. Both sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transient were prolonged in KO. Isolated KO left atria exhibited a marked increase in sensitivity to external Ca2+ and, in contrast to WT, continued to develop twitch force at low micromolar Ca2+. Taken together, the main consequence of cMyBP-C ablation was a defect in diastolic relaxation and a smaller dynamic range of cell shortening, both of which likely result from the increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity. Our findings indicate that cMyBP-C functions as a restraint on myosin-actin interaction at low Ca2+ and short SL to allow complete relaxation during diastole.

Adenovirus-delivered Short Hairpin RNA Targeting PKCalpha Improves Contractile Function in Reconstituted Heart Tissue

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Sep, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17628588

PKCalpha has been shown to be a negative regulator of contractility and PKCalpha gene deletion in mice protected against heart failure. Small interfering (si)RNAs mediate gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) and may be used to knockdown PKCalpha in cardiomyocytes. However, transfection efficiencies of (si)RNAs by lipofection tend to be low in primary cells. To address this limitation, we developed an adenoviral vector (AV) driving short hairpin (sh)RNAs against PKCalpha (Ad-shPKCalpha) and evaluated its potential to silence PKCalpha in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes and in engineered heart tissues (EHTs), which resemble functional myocardium in vitro. A nonsense encoding AV (Ad-shNS) served as control. Quantitative PCR and Western blotting showed 90% lower PKCalpha-mRNA and 50% lower PKCalpha protein in Ad-shPKCalpha-infected cells. EHTs were infected with Ad-shPKCalpha on day 11 and subjected to isometric force measurements in organ baths 4 days later. Mean twitch tension was >50% higher in Ad-shPKCalpha compared to Ad-shNS-infected EHTs, under basal and Ca(2+)- or isoprenaline-stimulated conditions. Twitch tension negatively correlated with PKCalpha mRNA levels. In summary, AV-delivered shRNA mediated highly efficient PKCalpha knockdown in cardiac myocytes and improved contractility in EHTs. The data support a role of PKCalpha as a negative regulator of myocardial contractility and demonstrate that EHTs in conjunction with AV-delivered shRNA are a useful model for target validation.

Cardiac Tissue Engineering: a Clinical Perspective

Future Cardiology. Jul, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 21526914

Engineered myocardium may be used to repair myocardial defects. Although not clinically applicable yet, initial studies in rodents have demonstrated the feasibility of tissue engineering based myocardial repair in vivo. In order for restorative treatment to evolve into a functional treatment modality, tissue engineers have to generate human myocardium of sufficient size and with relevant contractile function to replace/repair myocardial defects. This requires the identification of a scalable and ideally autologous cardiomyocyte source as well as the development of strategies to overcome size limitations. We will further address pivotal issues pertaining to the allocation of suitable human cells for myocardial tissue engineering and discuss the translation of present myocardial tissue engineering concepts into preclinical, as well as clinical, trials.

Decreased Phosphorylation Levels of Cardiac Myosin-binding Protein-C in Human and Experimental Heart Failure

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Aug, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17560599

Cardiac myosin-binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) is an important regulator of cardiac contractility, and its phosphorylation by PKA is a mechanism that contributes to increased cardiac output in response to beta-adrenergic stimulation. It is presently unknown whether heart failure alters cMyBP-C phosphorylation. The present study determined the level of phosphorylated cMyBP-C in failing human hearts and in a canine model of pacing-induced heart failure. A polyclonal antibody directed against the major phosphorylation site of cMyBP-C (Ser-282) was generated and its specificity was confirmed by PKA phosphorylation with isoprenaline in cardiomyocytes and Langendorff-perfused mouse hearts. Left ventricular myocardial tissue from (i) patients with terminal heart failure (hHF; n=12) and nonfailing donor hearts (hNF; n=6) and (ii) dogs with rapid-pacing-induced end-stage heart failure (dHF; n=10) and sham-operated controls (dNF; n=10) were used for quantification of total cMyBP-C and phospho-cMyBP-C by Western blotting. Total cMyBP-C protein levels were similar in hHF and hNF as well as in dHF and dNF. In contrast, the ratio of phospho-cMyBP-C to total cMyBP-C levels were >50% reduced in hHF and >40% reduced in dHF. In summary, cMyBP-C phosphorylation levels are markedly decreased in human and experimental heart failure. Thus, the compromised contractile function of the failing heart might be in part attributable to reduced cMyBP-C phosphorylation levels.

Reproducibility of Transthoracic Echocardiography in Small Animals Using Clinical Equipment

Coronary Artery Disease. Jun, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17496492

Transthoracic echocardiography has been employed to assess left ventricular dimensions and function in small animals. The aim of this study was to identify the limits of transthoracic echocardiography in a commonly used Wistar rat model by assessing intraobserver variability, interobserver variability, and day-to-day variability of examinations implying registrations and measurements.

Embryonic Stem Cells for Cardiac Muscle Engineering

Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. May, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17482096

The aim of cardiac tissue engineering is twofold: (1) to provide three-dimensional cardiac tissue to restore the function of diseased hearts and (2) to develop improved test beds for target validation and substance screening. Both concepts have been successfully demonstrated by several groups using immature primary heart cells, but these cells are essentially postmitotic, precluding clinical and large-scale in vitro applications. Identification of a renewable cell source is therefore one of the key objectives in the field. Embryonic stem (ES) cells are attractive candidates because they can be propagated in large quantities, have a robust capacity to differentiate into cardiac myocytes, and can be obtained from humans. Classic isolation of ES cells from the inner cell mass is associated with destruction of the respective embryo. Thus, alternative technologies to generate stem cell lines with ES cell properties are inevitably called for. This review discusses the usefulness of ES cells in cardiac tissue engineering and alternative, embryo-sparing technologies to derive ES cells.

Regulation of Cardiac CAMP Synthesis and Contractility by Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinase B/G Protein Beta Gamma Dimer Complexes

Circulation Research. Apr, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17363702

Heterotrimeric G proteins are pivotal regulators of myocardial contractility. In addition to the receptor-induced GDP/GTP exchange, G protein alpha subunits can be activated by a phosphate transfer via a plasma membrane-associated complex of nucleoside diphosphate kinase B (NDPK B) and G protein betagamma-dimers (Gbetagamma). To investigate the physiological role of this phosphate transfer in cardiomyocytes, we generated a Gbeta1gamma2-dimer carrying a single amino acid exchange at the intermediately phosphorylated His-266 in the beta1 subunit (Gbeta1H266Lgamma2). Recombinantly expressed Gbeta1H266Lgamma2 were integrated into heterotrimeric G proteins in rat cardiomyocytes but were deficient in intermediate Gbeta phosphorylation. Compared with wild-type Gbeta1gamma2 (Gbeta1WTgamma2), overexpression of Gbeta1H266Lgamma2 suppressed basal cAMP formation up to 55%. A similar decrease in basal cAMP production occurred when the formation of NDPK B/Gbetagamma complexes was attenuated by siRNA-mediated NDPK B knockdown. In adult rat cardiomyocytes expressing Gbeta1H266Lgamma2, the basal contractility was suppressed by approximately 50% which correlated to similarly reduced basal cAMP levels and reduced Ser16-phosphorylation of phospholamban. In the presence of the beta-adrenoceptor agonist isoproterenol, the total cAMP formation and contractility were significantly lower in Gbeta1H266Lgamma2 than in Gbeta1WTgamma2 expressing cardiomyocytes. However, the relative isoproterenol-induced increased was not affected by Gbeta1H266Lgamma2. We conclude that the receptor-independent activation of G proteins via NDPK B/Gbetagamma complexes requires the intermediate phosphorylation of G protein beta subunits at His-266. Our results highlight the histidine kinase activity of NDPK B for Gbeta and demonstrate its contribution to the receptor-independent regulation of cAMP synthesis and contractility in intact cardiomyocytes.

Reduced Contractile Response to Alpha1-adrenergic Stimulation in Atria from Mice with Chronic Cardiac Calmodulin Kinase II Inhibition

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Mar, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17292391

The sustained positive inotropic effect of alpha-adrenoceptor agonists in the heart is associated with a small increase in intracellular Ca(2+) transients together with a larger sensitization of myofilaments to Ca(2+). The multifunctional Ca(2+) and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) could contribute to this effect, either by affecting the Ca(2+) release (ryanodine receptor) or by an uptake mechanism (via phospholamban [PLB] and SR Ca(2+) ATPase). Here we examined the role of CaMKII in the positive inotropic effect of the alpha-adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine in left atria isolated from a genetic mouse model of cardiac CaMKII inhibition (AC3-I). Compared to atria from wild-type (WT) or AC3-C (scrambled peptide), AC3-I atria showed the following abnormalities. PLB phosphorylation at Thr17, a known CaMKII target, was significantly lower ( approximately 20%). Post-rest (30 s, 1 Hz, 37 degrees C) potentiation of force was absent (AC3-C, 190% of pre-rest amplitude). Basal force was approximately 20% lower at 1.8 mM Ca(2+), but normal at high Ca(2+) concentration (>4.5 mM). The maximal positive inotropic effect of phenylephrine, which was more pronounced at low frequencies in WT and AC3-C atria, lost its frequency dependence (1 Hz to 8 Hz). Thus, the effect of phenylephrine was reduced by approximately 50% at 1 Hz, but was normal at 8 Hz. All three groups showed a negative force-frequency relation, and did not differ in the frequency-dependent acceleration of relaxation. Our data indicate a role of CaMKII in post-rest potentiation and the positive inotropic effect of alpha-adrenergic stimulation at low frequencies.

Mechanical Unloading of the Rat Heart Involves Marked Changes in the Protein Kinase-phosphatase Balance

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18848565

Mechanical unloading of failing hearts by left ventricular (LV) assist devices is regularly used as a bridge to transplantation and may lead to symptomatic improvement. The latter has been associated with altered phosphorylation of cardiac regulatory proteins, but the underlying mechanisms remained unknown. Here, we tested whether cardiac unloading alters protein phosphorylation by affecting the corresponding kinase-phosphatase balance. Cardiac unloading and reduction in LV mass were induced by heterotopic heart transplantation in rats for two weeks (n=8). Native in situ hearts from the recipient animals were used as controls (n=8). The steady-state protein kinase A (PKA) and/or Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) phosphorylation levels of phospholamban (PLB, Ser(16) and Thr(17)) and troponin I (TnI, Ser(23/24)) were decreased by 40-60% in unloaded hearts. Consistently, in these hearts PKA activity was decreased by approximately 80% and the activity of protein phosphatase 1 and 2A was increased by 50% and 90%, respectively. In contrast, CaMKII activity was approximately 60% higher, which may serve as a partial compensation. These data indicate that unloading shifts the kinase-phosphatase balance towards net dephosphorylation of PLB and TnI. This shift may also contribute to the reduction in phosphorylation levels of cardiac phosphoproteins observed in diseased human hearts after LVAD.

Activation of Negative Regulators of the Hypoxia-inducible Factor (HIF) Pathway in Human End-stage Heart Failure

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Nov, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18782560

The hypoxia-inducible transcription factor HIF is induced early in acute myocardial ischemia in humans, but it is unknown whether this activation of HIF persists during chronic heart failure. The HIF system was characterized in left ventricular myocardia from 18 explanted failing hearts and 11 non-failing donor hearts by quantitative RT-PCR and Western analysis. HIF-1alpha mRNA levels were significantly decreased while its natural antisense transcript aHIF was nearly twofold higher (p<0.01) in failing myocardia than in control hearts. Moreover, compared to donor hearts a significantly increased expression of HIF-3alpha, which may act as a competitive inhibitor of HIF-1/2alpha activity, and PHD3, which upon hydroxylation of prolyl residues directs HIF-alpha subunits towards proteasomal degradation, was observed in the failing myocardium. Although negative regulators of HIF were induced, the HIF pathway obviously remains activated in chronic human heart failure, because prototype HIF target genes, such as ABCG2, VEGF, and BNIP3, were significantly induced.

Unloaded Rat Hearts in Vivo Express a Hypertrophic Phenotype of Cardiac Repolarization

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Nov, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18721926

Cardiac unloading with left ventricular assist devices is increasingly used to treat patients with severe heart failure. Unloading has been shown to improve systolic and diastolic function, but its impact on the repolarization of left ventricular myocytes is not known. Unloaded hearts exhibit similar patterns of gene expression as hearts subjected to an increased hemodynamic load. We therefore hypothesized that cardiac unloading also replicates the alterations in action potential and underlying repolarizing ionic currents found in pressure-overload induced cardiac hypertrophy. Left ventricular unloading was induced by heterotopic heart transplantation in syngenic male Lewis rats. Action potentials and underlying K+ and Ca2+ currents were investigated using whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Real-time RT-PCR was used to quantify mRNA expression of Kv4.2, Kv4.3, and KChIP2. Unloading markedly prolonged cardiac action potentials and suppressed the amplitude of several repolarizing K+ currents, in particular of the transient outward K+ current I(to), in both, epicardial and endocardial myocytes. The reduction of I(to) was associated with significantly lower levels of Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 mRNAs in epicardial myocytes, and of KChIP2 mRNA in endocardial myocytes. Concomitantly, the L-type Ca2+ current was increased in myocytes of unloaded hearts. Collectively, these results show that left ventricular unloading induces a profound remodelling of cardiac repolarization with action potential prolongation, downregulation of repolarizing K+ currents and upregulation of the L-type Ca2+ current. This indicates that unloaded rat hearts in vivo express a hypertrophic phenotype of cardiac repolarization at the cellular and the molecular level.

Phosphatase Inhibitor-1-deficient Mice Are Protected from Catecholamine-induced Arrhythmias and Myocardial Hypertrophy

Cardiovascular Research. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18689792

Phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1) is a conditional amplifier of beta-adrenergic signalling downstream of protein kinase A by inhibiting type-1 phosphatases only in its PKA-phosphorylated form. I-1 is downregulated in failing hearts and thus contributes to beta-adrenergic desensitization. It is unclear whether this should be viewed as a predominantly adverse or protective response.

Bisoprolol Vs. Carvedilol in Elderly Patients with Heart Failure: Rationale and Design of the CIBIS-ELD Trial

Clinical Research in Cardiology : Official Journal of the German Cardiac Society. Sep, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18542839

Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a widespread disease with severe quality of life impairment and a poor prognosis. Beta-blockers are the mainstay of CHF therapy; yet they are under-prescribed and under-dosed in clinical practice. This is particularly evident in elderly patients, which may be due to a fear of side-effects or intolerance. Beta-blockers have further not been adequately tested in patients with diastolic CHF, which is particularly common in elderly patients. Finally, comparative data on the use of different beta-blockers in patients with CHF is scarce.

Angiotensin II and Myosin Light-chain Phosphorylation Contribute to the Stretch-induced Slow Force Response in Human Atrial Myocardium

Cardiovascular Research. Sep, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18503051

Stretch is an important regulator of atrial function. The functional effects of stretch on human atrium, however, are poorly understood. Thus, we characterized the stretch-induced force response in human atrium and evaluated the underlying cellular mechanisms.

The Slow Force Response to Stretch in Atrial and Ventricular Myocardium from Human Heart: Functional Relevance and Subcellular Mechanisms

Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. Jun-Jul, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18466959

Mechanical load is an important regulator of cardiac force. Stretching human atrial and ventricular trabeculae elicited a biphasic force increase: an immediate increase (Frank-Starling mechanism) followed by a further slow increase (slow force response, SFR). In ventricle, the SFR was unaffected by AT- and ET-receptor antagonism, by inhibition of protein-kinase-C, PI-3-kinase, and NO-synthase, but attenuated by inhibition of Na+/H+- (NHE) and Na+/Ca2+ exchange (NCX). In atrium, however, neither NHE- nor NCX-inhibition affected the SFR. Stretch elicited a large NHE-dependent [Na+]i increase in ventricle but only a small, NHE-independent [Na+]i increase in atrium. Stretch-activated non-selective cation channels contributed to basal force development in atrium but not ventricle and were not involved in the SFR in either tissue. Interestingly, inhibition of AT receptors or pre-application of angiotensin II or endothelin-1 reduced the atrial SFR. Furthermore, stretch increased phosphorylation of atrial myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) and inhibition of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) attenuated the SFR in atrium and ventricle. Thus, in human heart both atrial and ventricular myocardium exhibit a stretch-dependent SFR that might serve to adjust cardiac output to increased workload. In ventricle, there is a robust NHE-dependent (but angiotensin II- and endothelin-1-independent) [Na+]i increase that is translated into a [Ca2+]i and force increase via NCX. In atrium, on the other hand, there is an angiotensin II- and endothelin-dependent (but NHE- and NCX-independent) force increase. Increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity through MLCK-induced phosphorylation of MLC2 is a novel mechanism contributing to the SFR in both atrium and ventricle.

Beta-adrenergic Signaling in Heart Failure-adapt or Die

Nature Medicine. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18463653

ATP-binding Cassette Transporters in Human Heart Failure

Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18392808

Adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are involved in energy-dependent transport of substrates across biological membranes. We hypothesized that their expression is altered during human heart failure, suggesting a pathophysiologic basis. Messenger ribonucleic acid quantification of all known ABC transporters revealed multiple alterations in ABC transporter expression in failing human hearts (New York Heart Association classification III-IV) compared to nonfailing controls. These include a loss of ABCC7 chloride channels and an increased expression of the K(ATP) channel regulatory subunits ABCC8. Moreover, ABCG2, an efflux pump for xenobiotics/drugs, was expressed at much higher levels in failing hearts compared to nonfailing control hearts. ABCG2 was found in cardiac capillary endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes. Experiments in cells stably transfected with human ABCG2 revealed that the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonist rosiglitazone was transported by ABCG2 but also inhibited the export of the prototypical ABCG2 substrate pheophorbide A (IC(50) 25 microM). These results suggest that altered ABC transporter expression in failing hearts might contribute to impaired channel conductance or might affect the cardiac disposition of drugs.

Inhibition of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Type 2 Attenuates Vasodilatory Action of Nitroglycerin in Human Veins

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Jul, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18272654

Recent studies suggest that the mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)2 is involved in vascular bioactivation of nitroglycerin (GTN). However, neither expression of ALDH2 nor its functional role in GTN bioactivation has been reported for the main drug target in humans, namely capacitance vessels. We investigated whether ALDH2 is expressed in human veins and whether inhibition of the enzyme attenuates nitroglycerin effects in these vessels. We determined expression of ALDH2 and dehydrogenase activity in human veins by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunofluorescence microscopy. In vitro contraction experiments were performed in the presence or absence of the ALDH inhibitors chloral hydrate, cyanamide, and ethoxycyclopropanol. Concentration response curves were determined for the alpha-agonist phenylephrine, nitroglycerin, and the direct NO donor diethylamine NONOate (DEA-NONOate). ALDH2 expression was largely confined to smooth muscle cells as determined by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. Contractile responses to phenylephrine were unaffected by all ALDH inhibitors tested. In clear contrast, the ALDH inhibitors significantly reduced the potency of nitroglycerin by approximately 1 order of magnitude (P < or = 0.01). Neither of the inhibitors affected the potency of the direct NO donor DEA-NONOate, which ruled out nonspecific effects on the NO signaling cascade. In human capacitance vessels, ALDH2 is a key enzyme in the biotransformation of the frequently used antianginal drug nitroglycerin.

Thyroid Hormone Regulates Developmental Titin Isoform Transitions Via the Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/ AKT Pathway

Circulation Research. Feb, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18096819

Titins, giant sarcomere proteins with major mechanical/signaling functions, are expressed in 2 main isoform classes in the mammalian heart: N2B (3000 kDa) and N2BA (>3200 kDa). A dramatic isoform switch occurs during cardiac development, from fetal N2BA titin (3700 kDa) expressed before birth to a mix of smaller N2BA/N2B isoforms found postnatally; adult rat hearts almost exclusively have N2B titin. The isoform switch, which can be reversed in chronic human heart failure, alters myocardial distensibility and mechanosignaling. Here we determined factors regulating this switch using, as a model system, primary cardiomyocyte cultures prepared from embryonic rats. In standard culture, the mean N2B percentage initially was 14% and increased by approximately 60% within 1 week, resembling the in vivo switching. The titin isoform transition was independent of endothelin-1-induced myocyte hypertrophy and was not altered by pacing, contractile arrest, or cell stretch; however, it was modestly impaired by decreasing substrate rigidity and strongly dependent on serum components. Angiotensin II significantly promoted the transition. The mean N2B proportion in 1-week-old cultures dropped 20% to 25% in hormone-reduced medium, but addition of 3,5,3'-triiodo-l-thyronine (T3) nearly restored the proportion to that found in standard culture. This T3 effect was not prevented by bisphenol A, a specific inhibitor of the classic genomic pathway of T3 action. In contrast, the titin switch could be stalled by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002, which decreased the proportion of N2B mRNA transcripts within hours and suppressed a rapid T3-induced increase in Akt phosphorylation. Also, angiotensin II, but not endothelin-1 or cell stretch, enhanced Akt phosphorylation. Thus, although matrix stiffness modulates developmental titin isoform transitions, these transitions are mainly regulated through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt-dependent signaling triggered particularly by T3 via a rapid action pathway.

Real-time Myocardial Contrast Echocardiography for Assessing Perfusion and Function in Healthy and Infarcted Wistar Rats

Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 17854980

Real-time myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE) is a noninvasive perfusion imaging method, whereas technical and resolution problems impair its application in small animals. Hence, we investigated the feasibility of MCE in experimental cardiovascular set-ups involving healthy and infarcted myocardium in rats. Twenty-five male Wistar rats were examined under volatile anesthesia (2.5% isoflurane) with high-resolution conventional 2-D echocardiography (2DE) and real-time MCE (Sonos 7,500 with 15MHz-transducer, Philips Medical Systems, Andover, MA, USA) in short-axis view. Contrast agent (SonoVue, Bracco, Milan, Italy) was infused as a bolus into a sublingual vein. Background-subtracted contrast signal intensity (SI) was measured off-line in six end-systolic segments and fitted to an exponential curve (gamma variate). Derived peak SI was subsequently calculated and compared with wall motion and common functional measured quantities (left ventricular end-diastolic diameter [LVEDD], area shortening [AS]). Recordings were performed before and 14 days after left anterior descending (LAD) ligature. Infarction induced anterior wall motion abnormalities (WMA) in all animals (16 akinetic, 9 hypokinetic), increased LVEDD (9.1 +/- 0.6 vs. 7.9 +/- 0.6 mm, p < 0.001), reduced AS (36.1 +/- 10.0 vs. 59.5 +/- 4.1%, p < 0.001) and reduced anterior segmental SI (0.4 +/- 0.4 dB akinetic / 1.7 +/- 1.7 dB hypokinetic vs. 15.8 +/- 10.9 dB preinfarct, p < 0.001 / p < 0.001). Segmental SI in normokinetic segments remained unchanged. Area at risk (perfusion defect) correlated well with WMA (r = 0.838). These data confirmed high-resolution real-time MCE as a rational tool for assessing myocardial perfusion of Wistar rats. It may therefore be a useful diagnostic tool for in-vivo cardiovascular research in small animals.

[Not Available]

MMW Fortschritte Der Medizin. Oct, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 27372484

Hepatocyte Growth Factor or Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Gene Transfer Maximizes Mesenchymal Stem Cell-based Myocardial Salvage After Acute Myocardial Infarction

Circulation. Sep, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19752375

Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based regenerative strategies were investigated to treat acute myocardial infarction and improve left ventricular function.

Nonsense-mediated MRNA Decay and Ubiquitin-proteasome System Regulate Cardiac Myosin-binding Protein C Mutant Levels in Cardiomyopathic Mice

Circulation Research. Jul, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19590044

Mutations in the MYBPC3 gene encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein (cMyBP)-C are frequent causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but the mechanisms leading from mutations to disease remain elusive.

A New Polymorphism in Human Calmodulin III Gene Promoter is a Potential Modifier Gene for Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

European Heart Journal. Jul, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19429631

Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) is caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins. Incomplete penetrance suggests the existence of modifier genes. Calmodulin (CaM) could be of importance given the key role of Ca(2+) for cardiac contractile function and growth. Any variant that affects CaM expression and/or function may impact on FHC clinical expression.

Capturing Adenylyl Cyclases As Potential Drug Targets

Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery. Apr, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19337273

Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is an important intracellular signalling mediator. It is generated in mammals by nine membrane-bound and one soluble adenylyl cyclases (ACs), each with distinct regulation and expression patterns. Although many drugs inhibit or stimulate AC activity through the respective upstream G-protein coupled receptors (for example, opioid or beta-adrenergic receptors), ACs themselves have not been major drug targets. Over the past decade studies on the physiological functions of the different mammalian AC isoforms as well as advances in the development of isoform-selective AC inhibitors and activators suggest that ACs could be useful drug targets. Here we discuss the therapeutic potential of isoform-selective compounds in various clinical settings, including neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative disorders, congestive heart failure, asthma and male contraception.

Treatment with Atorvastatin Partially Protects the Rat Heart from Harmful Catecholamine Effects

Cardiovascular Research. Apr, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19136528

Atorvastatin blunts the response of cardiomyocytes to catecholamines by reducing isoprenylation of G gamma subunits. We examined whether atorvastatin exerts similar effects in vivo and protects the rat heart from harmful effects of catecholamines.

Beta-adrenergic Stimulation and Myocardial Function in the Failing Heart

Heart Failure Reviews. Dec, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19110970

The sympathetic nervous system provides the most powerful stimulation of cardiac function, brought about via norepinephrine and epinephrine and their postsynaptic beta-adrenergic receptors. More than 30 years after the first use of practolol in patients with heart failure beta blockers are now the mainstay of the pharmacological treatment of chronic heart failure. Many aspects of their mechanism of action are well understood, but others remain unresolved. This review focuses on a number of questions that are key to further developments in the field. What accounts for and what is the role of beta-adrenergic desensitization, a hallmark of the failing heart? Is part of this adaptation predominantly beneficial and should therefore be reinforced, another part mainly maladaptive and therefore a target for antagonists? Which lessons can be drawn from studies in genetically engineered mice, which from (pharmaco) genetic studies? Finally, what are promising targets downstream of beta-adrenergic receptors that go beyond the current neurohumoral blockade?

Common MicroRNA Signatures in Cardiac Hypertrophic and Atrophic Remodeling Induced by Changes in Hemodynamic Load

PloS One. 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21151612

Mechanical overload leads to cardiac hypertrophy and mechanical unloading to cardiac atrophy. Both conditions produce similar transcriptional changes including a re-expression of fetal genes, despite obvious differences in phenotype. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are discussed as superordinate regulators of global gene networks acting mainly at the translational level. Here, we hypothesized that defined sets of miRNAs may determine the direction of cardiomyocyte plasticity responses.

MicroRNA-199b Targets the Nuclear Kinase Dyrk1a in an Auto-amplification Loop Promoting Calcineurin/NFAT Signalling

Nature Cell Biology. Dec, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21102440

MicroRNAs (miRs) are a class of single-stranded, non-coding RNAs of about 22 nucleotides in length. Increasing evidence implicates miRs in myocardial disease processes. Here we show that miR-199b is a direct calcineurin/NFAT target gene that increases in expression in mouse and human heart failure, and targets the nuclear NFAT kinase dual-specificity tyrosine-(Y)-phosphorylation regulated kinase 1a (Dyrk1a), constituting a pathogenic feed forward mechanism that affects calcineurin-responsive gene expression. Mutant mice overexpressing miR-199b, or haploinsufficient for Dyrk1a, are sensitized to calcineurin/NFAT signalling or pressure overload and show stress-induced cardiomegaly through reduced Dyrk1a expression. In vivo inhibition of miR-199b by a specific antagomir normalized Dyrk1a expression, reduced nuclear NFAT activity and caused marked inhibition and even reversal of hypertrophy and fibrosis in mouse models of heart failure. Our results reveal that microRNAs affect cardiac cellular signalling and gene expression, and implicate miR-199b as a therapeutic target in heart failure.

Is Ryanodine Receptor Phosphorylation Key to the Fight or Flight Response and Heart Failure?

The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Dec, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21099119

In situations of stress the heart beats faster and stronger. According to Marks and colleagues, this response is, to a large extent, the consequence of facilitated Ca²+ release from intracellular Ca²+ stores via ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2), thought to be due to catecholamine-induced increases in RyR2 phosphorylation at serine 2808 (S2808). If catecholamine stimulation is sustained (for example, as occurs in heart failure), RyR2 becomes hyperphosphorylated and "leaky," leading to arrhythmias and other pathology. This "leaky RyR2 hypothesis" is highly controversial. In this issue of the JCI, Marks and colleagues report on two new mouse lines with mutations in S2808 that provide strong evidence supporting their theory. Moreover, the experiments revealed an influence of redox modifications of RyR2 that may account for some discrepancies in the field.

The New HNO Donor, 1-nitrosocyclohexyl Acetate, Increases Contractile Force in Normal and β-adrenergically Desensitized Ventricular Myocytes

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Nov, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20946877

Contractile dysfunction and diminished response to β-adrenergic agonists are characteristics for failing hearts. Chemically donated nitroxyl (HNO) improves contractility in failing hearts and thus may have therapeutic potential. Yet, there is a need for pharmacologically suitable donors. In this study we tested whether the pure and long acting HNO donor, 1-nitrosocyclohexyl acetate (NCA), affects contractile force in normal and pathological ventricular myocytes (VMs) as well as in isolated hearts. VMs were isolated from mice either subjected to isoprenaline-infusion (ISO; 30 μg/g per day) or to vehicle (0.9% NaCl) for 5 days. Sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transients were simultaneously measured using the IonOptix system. Force of contraction of isolated hearts was measured by a Langendorff-perfusion system. NCA increased peak sarcomere shortening by+40-200% in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 ∼55 μM). Efficacy and potency did not differ between normal and chronic ISO VMs, despite the fact that the latter displayed a markedly diminished inotropic response to acute β-adrenergic stimulation with ISO (1 μM). NCA (60 μM) increased peak sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transient amplitude by ∼200% and ∼120%, respectively, suggesting effects on both myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ cycling. Importantly, NCA did not affect diastolic Ca2+ or SR Ca2+ content, as assessed by rapid caffeine application. NCA (45 μM) increased force of contraction by 30% in isolated hearts. In conclusion, NCA increased contractile force in normal and β-adrenergically desensitized VMs as well as in isolated mouse hearts. This profile warrants further investigations of this HNO donor in the context of heart failure.

Myomasp/LRRC39, a Heart- and Muscle-specific Protein, is a Novel Component of the Sarcomeric M-band and is Involved in Stretch Sensing

Circulation Research. Nov, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20847312

The M-band represents a transverse structure in the center of the sarcomeric A-band and provides an anchor for the myosin-containing thick filaments. In contrast to other sarcomeric structures, eg, the Z-disc, only few M-band-specific proteins have been identified to date, and its exact molecular composition remains unclear.

Phosphatase-1-inhibitor-1: Amplifier or Attenuator of Catecholaminergic Stress?

Basic Research in Cardiology. Sep, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20526608

Development of a Drug Screening Platform Based on Engineered Heart Tissue

Circulation Research. Jul, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20448218

Tissue engineering may provide advanced in vitro models for drug testing and, in combination with recent induced pluripotent stem cell technology, disease modeling, but available techniques are unsuitable for higher throughput. Objective: Here, we present a new miniaturized and automated method based on engineered heart tissue (EHT).

[Vernakalant: a Novel Antiarrhythmic Drug for the Rapid Conversion of Atrial Fibrillation to Sinus Rhythm]

Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (1946). May, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20446233

Vernakalant is a promising novel antiarrhythmic intravenous drug for the rapid conversion of atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm. It blocks several ion currents important in cardiac action potential including IKr. Its difference to traditional antiarrhythmic drugs is a preferential effect on the atria, achieved by an inhibition of repolarizing potassium ion currents I(Kur), which is atrial-specific, and I(to), predominantly affecting atrial repolarization, as there is little atrial plateau potential. Furthermore vernakalant blocks frequency- and voltage-dependent sodium ion currents (I(Na)). Thus rapid action potentials in atrial fibrillation are particularly targeted by vernakalant: this leads to a conversion rate to sinus rhythm in about 50 % of recent-onset attacks (less than 7 days) of atrial fibrillation. Age, gender, organ function and concomitant medication seem to have no clinically significant influence on the pharmacokinetics of vernakalant. The number of patients included in the studies is still too small to provide a definitive answer on its cardiac toxicity. However, a demonstrated tendency towards proarrhythmia and little experience with this new drug demands precaution even after it has been officially approved.

Myeloperoxidase Acts As a Profibrotic Mediator of Atrial Fibrillation

Nature Medicine. Apr, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20305660

Observational clinical and ex vivo studies have established a strong association between atrial fibrillation and inflammation. However, whether inflammation is the cause or the consequence of atrial fibrillation and which specific inflammatory mediators may increase the atria's susceptibility to fibrillation remain elusive. Here we provide experimental and clinical evidence for the mechanistic involvement of myeloperoxidase (MPO), a heme enzyme abundantly expressed by neutrophils, in the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation. MPO-deficient mice pretreated with angiotensin II (AngII) to provoke leukocyte activation showed lower atrial tissue abundance of the MPO product 3-chlorotyrosine, reduced activity of matrix metalloproteinases and blunted atrial fibrosis as compared to wild-type mice. Upon right atrial electrophysiological stimulation, MPO-deficient mice were protected from atrial fibrillation, which was reversed when MPO was restored. Humans with atrial fibrillation had higher plasma concentrations of MPO and a larger MPO burden in right atrial tissue as compared to individuals devoid of atrial fibrillation. In the atria, MPO colocalized with markedly increased formation of 3-chlorotyrosine. Our data demonstrate that MPO is a crucial prerequisite for structural remodeling of the myocardium, leading to an increased vulnerability to atrial fibrillation.

Constitutively Active Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 Improves Cardiac Contractility in Young Mice but is Deleterious After Catecholaminergic Stress and with Aging

The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Feb, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20071777

Phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1) is a distal amplifier element of beta-adrenergic signaling that functions by preventing dephosphorylation of downstream targets. I-1 is downregulated in human failing hearts, while overexpression of a constitutively active mutant form (I-1c) reverses contractile dysfunction in mouse failing hearts, suggesting that I-1c may be a candidate for gene therapy. We generated mice with conditional cardiomyocyte-restricted expression of I-1c (referred to herein as dTGI-1c mice) on an I-1-deficient background. Young adult dTGI-1c mice exhibited enhanced cardiac contractility but exaggerated contractile dysfunction and ventricular dilation upon catecholamine infusion. Telemetric ECG recordings revealed typical catecholamine-induced ventricular tachycardia and sudden death. Doxycycline feeding switched off expression of cardiomyocyte-restricted I-1c and reversed all abnormalities. Hearts from dTGI-1c mice showed hyperphosphorylation of phospholamban and the ryanodine receptor, and this was associated with an increased number of catecholamine-induced Ca2+ sparks in isolated myocytes. Aged dTGI-1c mice spontaneously developed a cardiomyopathic phenotype. These data were confirmed in a second independent transgenic mouse line, expressing a full-length I-1 mutant that could not be phosphorylated and thereby inactivated by PKC-alpha (I-1S67A). In conclusion, conditional expression of I-1c or I-1S67A enhanced steady-state phosphorylation of 2 key Ca2+-regulating sarcoplasmic reticulum enzymes. This was associated with increased contractile function in young animals but also with arrhythmias and cardiomyopathy after adrenergic stress and with aging. These data should be considered in the development of novel therapies for heart failure.

Atrogin-1 and MuRF1 Regulate Cardiac MyBP-C Levels Via Different Mechanisms

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 19850579

Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) is frequently caused by cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) gene mutations, which should result in C-terminal truncated mutants. However, truncated mutants were not detected in myocardial tissue of FHC patients and were rapidly degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) after gene transfer in cardiac myocytes. Since the diversity and specificity of UPS regulation lie in E3 ubiquitin ligases, we investigated whether the muscle-specific E3 ligases atrogin-1 or muscle ring finger protein-1 (MuRF1) mediate degradation of truncated cMyBP-C.

The Ubiquitin-proteasome System and Nonsense-mediated MRNA Decay in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 19617224

Cardiomyopathies represent an important cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality due to heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden death. Most forms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) are familial with an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance. Over the last 20 years, the genetic basis of the disease has been largely unravelled. HCM is considered as a sarcomeropathy involving mutations in sarcomeric proteins, most often beta-myosin heavy chain and cardiac myosin-binding protein C. 'Missense' mutations, more common in the former, are associated with dysfunctional proteins stably integrated into the sarcomere. 'Nonsense' and frameshift mutations, more common in the latter, are associated with low mRNA and protein levels derived from the diseased allele, leading to haploinsufficiency of the remaining healthy allele. The two quality control systems responsible for the removal of the affected mRNAs and proteins are the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), respectively. This review discusses clinical and genetic aspects of HCM and the role of NMD and UPS in the regulation of mutant proteins, evidence for impairment of UPS as a pathogenic factor, as well as potential therapies for HCM.

Adrenergic Stress Reveals Septal Hypertrophy and Proteasome Impairment in Heterozygous Mybpc3-targeted Knock-in Mice

Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility. Nov, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22076249

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is characterized by asymmetric septal hypertrophy and is often caused by mutations in MYBPC3 gene encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein C. In contrast to humans, who are already affected at the heterozygous state, mouse models develop the phenotype mainly at the homozygous state. Evidence from cell culture work suggested that altered proteasome function contributes to the pathogenesis of HCM. Here we tested in two heterozygous Mybpc3-targeted mouse models whether adrenergic stress unmasks a specific cardiac phenotype and proteasome dysfunction. The first model carries a human Mybpc3 mutation (Het-KI), the second is a heterozygous Mybpc3 knock-out (Het-KO). Both models were compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Mice were treated with a combination of isoprenaline and phenylephrine (ISO/PE) or NaCl for 1 week. Whereas ISO/PE induced left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) with increased posterior wall thickness to a similar extent in all groups, it increased septum thickness only in Het-KI and Het-KO. ISO/PE did not affect the proteasomal chymotrypsin-like activity or β5-subunit protein level in Het-KO or wild-type mice (WT). In contrast, both parameters were markedly lower in Het-KI and negatively correlated with the degree of LVH in Het-KI only. In conclusion, adrenergic stress revealed septal hypertrophy in both heterozygous mouse models of HCM, but proteasome dysfunction only in Het-KI mice, which carry a mutant allele and closely mimic human HCM. This supports the hypothesis that proteasome impairment contributes to the pathophysiology of HCM.

Human Engineered Heart Tissue As a Versatile Tool in Basic Research and Preclinical Toxicology

PloS One. 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22028871

Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) progenies hold great promise as surrogates for human primary cells, particularly if the latter are not available as in the case of cardiomyocytes. However, high content experimental platforms are lacking that allow the function of hESC-derived cardiomyocytes to be studied under relatively physiological and standardized conditions. Here we describe a simple and robust protocol for the generation of fibrin-based human engineered heart tissue (hEHT) in a 24-well format using an unselected population of differentiated human embryonic stem cells containing 30-40% α-actinin-positive cardiac myocytes. Human EHTs started to show coherent contractions 5-10 days after casting, reached regular (mean 0.5 Hz) and strong (mean 100 µN) contractions for up to 8 weeks. They displayed a dense network of longitudinally oriented, interconnected and cross-striated cardiomyocytes. Spontaneous hEHT contractions were analyzed by automated video-optical recording and showed chronotropic responses to calcium and the β-adrenergic agonist isoprenaline. The proarrhythmic compounds E-4031, quinidine, procainamide, cisapride, and sertindole exerted robust, concentration-dependent and reversible decreases in relaxation velocity and irregular beating at concentrations that recapitulate findings in hERG channel assays. In conclusion this study establishes hEHT as a simple in vitro model for heart research.

Terminal Differentiation, Advanced Organotypic Maturation, and Modeling of Hypertrophic Growth in Engineered Heart Tissue

Circulation Research. Oct, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21921264

Cardiac tissue engineering should provide "realistic" in vitro heart muscle models and surrogate tissue for myocardial repair. For either application, engineered myocardium should display features of native myocardium, including terminal differentiation, organotypic maturation, and hypertrophic growth.

The Beat Goes On: Human Heart Muscle from Pluripotent Stem Cells

Circulation Research. Jun, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21700948

Follistatin-like 1 in Chronic Systolic Heart Failure: a Marker of Left Ventricular Remodeling

Circulation. Heart Failure. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21622850

Follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1) is an extracellular glycoprotein found in human serum. Recent work suggests that FSTL1 is secreted in response to ischemic injuries and that its overexpression is protective in the heart and vasculature.

The Effect of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Osteoblastic Differentiation on the Mechanical Properties of Engineered Bone-like Tissue

Tissue Engineering. Part A. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21548844

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can give rise to osteoblasts and have therefore been suggested as a cell source for bone engineering. Here we hypothesized that MSC osteoblastic differentiation and maturation can be supported by three-dimensional cultures in collagen hydrogels (hydrogel culture) to ultimately give rise to mechanically robust bone-like tissue. We first compared the osteoblastic differentiation efficiency of MSCs using osteoinductive supplements (β-glycerophosphate, vitamin C, and dexamethasone) in a hydrogel culture and in a two-dimensional culture (2D culture) by assessing surrogate parameters for osteoblastic differentiation, including osteocalcin (OC) secretion and calcium (Ca) deposition. We next constructed ring-shaped bone-like tissues using MSCs in the hydrogel cultures, and assessed their mechanical (strain-strain analysis), biochemical/molecular (OC secretion, Ca deposition, and Runx2/osterix mRNA levels), and morphological (von Kossa staining) properties. OC secretions and Ca depositions were significantly higher in the hydrogel cultures than those in the 2D cultures, suggesting better osteoblastic differentiation and maturation in the hydrogel cultures. Collagen hydrogel-based ring-shaped bone-like tissues conditioned with osteoinductive supplements developed enhanced biomechanical properties, including high tissue stiffness and ultimate burst strength, superior molecular/biochemical properties, and morphological signs typically found in mineralized bone. These results may be exploited not only to generate bioartificial bone, but also to elucidate the basic mechanisms of bone physiology.

Titration to Target Dose of Bisoprolol Vs. Carvedilol in Elderly Patients with Heart Failure: the CIBIS-ELD Trial

European Journal of Heart Failure. Jun, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21429992

Various beta-blockers with distinct pharmacological profiles are approved in heart failure, yet they remain underused and underdosed. Although potentially of major public health importance, whether one agent is superior in terms of tolerability and optimal dosing has not been investigated. The aim of this study was therefore to compare the tolerability and clinical effects of two proven beta-blockers in elderly patients with heart failure.

Phosphatase-1 Inhibitor-1 in Physiological and Pathological β-adrenoceptor Signalling

Cardiovascular Research. Aug, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21354993

Control of protein phosphorylation-dephosphorylation events occurs through regulation of protein kinases and phosphatases. Phosphatase type 1 (PP-1) provides the main activity of serine/threonine protein phosphatases in the heart. Inhibitor-1 (I-1) was the first endogenous molecule found to inhibit PP-1 specifically. Notably, I-1 is activated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA), and the subsequent prevention of target dephosphorylation by PP-1 provides distal amplification of β-adrenoceptor (β-AR) signalling. I-1 was found to be down-regulated and hypo-phosphorylated in human and experimental heart failure but hyperactive in human atrial fibrillation, implicating I-1 in the pathogenesis of heart failure and arrhythmias. Consequently, the therapeutic potential of I-1 in heart failure and arrhythmias has recently been addressed by the generation and analysis of several I-1 genetic mouse models. This review summarizes and discusses these data, highlights partially controversial issues on whether I-1 should be therapeutically reinforced or inhibited and suggests future directions to better understand the functional role of I-1 in physiological and pathological β-AR signalling.

Cardiovascular Side Effects of Cancer Therapies: a Position Statement from the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology

European Journal of Heart Failure. Jan, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21169385

The reductions in mortality and morbidity being achieved among cancer patients with current therapies represent a major achievement. However, given their mechanisms of action, many anti-cancer agents may have significant potential for cardiovascular side effects, including the induction of heart failure. The magnitude of this problem remains unclear and is not readily apparent from current clinical trials of emerging targeted agents, which generally under-represent older patients and those with significant co-morbidities. The risk of adverse events may also increase when novel agents, which frequently modulate survival pathways, are used in combination with each other or with other conventional cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. The extent to which survival and growth pathways in the tumour cell (which we seek to inhibit) coincide with those in cardiovascular cells (which we seek to preserve) is an open question but one that will become ever more important with the development of new cancer therapies that target intracellular signalling pathways. It remains unclear whether potential cardiovascular problems can be predicted from analyses of such basic signalling mechanisms and what pre-clinical evaluation should be undertaken. The screening of patients, optimization of therapeutic schemes, monitoring of cardiovascular function during treatment, and the management of cardiovascular side effects are likely to become increasingly important in cancer patients. This paper summarizes the deliberations of a cross-disciplinary workshop organized by the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (held in Brussels in May 2009), which brought together clinicians working in cardiology and oncology and those involved in basic, translational, and pharmaceutical science.

Engineering Bioartificial Tracheal Tissue Using Hybrid Fibroblast-mesenchymal Stem Cell Cultures in Collagen Hydrogels

Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Feb, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21098511

We aimed at providing the first in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept for a novel tracheal tissue engineering technology. We hypothesized that bioartificial trachea (BT) could be generated from fibroblast and collagen hydrogels, mechanically supported by osteogenically-induced mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in ring-shaped 3D-hydrogel cultures, and applied in an experimental model of rat trachea injury. Tube-shaped tissue was constructed from mixtures of rat fibroblasts and collagen in custom-made casting molds. The tissue was characterized histologically and mechanically. Ring-shaped tissue was constructed from mixtures of rat MSCs and collagen and fused to the tissue-engineered tubes to function as reinforcement. Stiffness of the biological reinforcement was enhanced by induction of osteogeneic differentiation in MSCs. Osteogenic differentiation was evaluated by assessment of osteocalcin (OC) secretion, quantification of calcium (Ca) deposit, and mechanical testing. Finally, BT was implanted to bridge a surgically-induced tracheal defect. A three-layer tubular tissue structure composed of an interconnected network of fibroblasts was constructed. Tissue collapse was prevented by the placement of MSC-containing ring-shaped tissue reinforcement around the tubular constructs. Osteogenic induction resulted in high OC secretion, high Ca deposit, and enhanced construct stiffness. Ultimately, when BT was implanted, recipient rats were able to breathe spontaneously.

Distinction Between Two Populations of Islet-1-positive Cells in Hearts of Different Murine Strains

Stem Cells and Development. Jun, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 20942609

Islet-1 expression identifies populations of progenitor cells in embryonic, fetal, and newborn murine hearts that are able to give rise to all cardiac cell lineages ex vivo and in vivo. Using systematic immunohistochemistry, we investigated whether islet-1-positive cells are present in adult mouse heart from the perspective of their potential therapeutic utility. The presence, localization, and nature of islet-1-positive cells were assessed in mice of different strains, ages, and conditions. Islet-1-positive cells were present in mouse heart from postnatal day 1 to young adulthood. Depending on the strain, these cells were organized in either 1 or 2 types of clusters localized to restricted areas, at a distance of 6%-35% of the heart length from the base. The first type of cluster was present in all strains and consisted of neural crest-derived cells that formed cardiac ganglia. The number of cells remained stable (a few hundred) from neonatal up to adult ages, and variations were noted between strains regarding their long-term persistency. The second type of cluster was essentially present in 129SvJ or Balb/C strains and absent from the other strains tested (C57BL/6J, C3H, SJL). It consisted of cells expressing highly ordered sarcomeric actin, consistent with their having cardiomyocyte identity. These cells disappeared in animals older than 4 months. Neither the number nor the type of islet-1-positive cells varied with time in a mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy. Our studies demonstrate that islet-1-positive cells are relatively few in number in adult murine heart, being localized in restricted and rather inaccessible areas, and can represent both neural crest and cardiomyocyte lineages.

Defective Proteolytic Systems in Mybpc3-targeted Mice with Cardiac Hypertrophy

Basic Research in Cardiology. Jan, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22189562

Several lines of evidence suggest that alterations of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy-lysosome pathway (ALP) may be involved in cardiac diseases. Little is known, however, in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This study studied these pathways in two mouse models of HCM that mainly differ by the presence or absence of truncated mutant proteins. Analyses were performed in homozygous Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mice, carrying a HCM mutation and exhibiting low levels of mutant cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C), and in Mybpc3-targeted knock-out (KO) mice expressing no cMyBP-C, thus serving as a model of pure cMyBP-C insufficiency. In the early postnatal development of cardiac hypertrophy, both models showed higher levels of ubiquitinated proteins and greater proteasomal activities. To specifically monitor the degradation capacity of the UPS with age, mice were crossed with transgenic mice that overexpress Ub(G76V)-GFP. Ub(G76V)-GFP protein levels were fourfold higher in 1-year-old KI, but not KO mice, suggesting a specific UPS impairment in mice expressing truncated cMyBP-C. Whereas protein levels of key ALP markers were higher, suggesting ALP activation in both mutant mice, their mRNA levels did not differ between the groups, underlying rather defective ALP-mediated degradation. Analysis of key proteins regulated in heart failure did not reveal specific alterations in KI and KO mice. Our data suggest (1) UPS activation in early postnatal development of cardiac hypertrophy, (2) specific UPS impairment in old KI mice carrying a HCM mutation, and (3) defective ALP as a common mechanism in genetically engineered mice with cardiac hypertrophy.

Increased Afterload Induces Pathological Cardiac Hypertrophy: a New in Vitro Model

Basic Research in Cardiology. Nov, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 23099820

Increased afterload results in 'pathological' cardiac hypertrophy, the most important risk factor for the development of heart failure. Current in vitro models fall short in deciphering the mechanisms of hypertrophy induced by afterload enhancement. The aim of this study was to develop an experimental model that allows investigating the impact of afterload enhancement (AE) on work-performing heart muscles in vitro. Fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) was cast between two hollow elastic silicone posts in a 24-well cell culture format. After 2 weeks, the posts were reinforced with metal braces, which markedly increased afterload of the spontaneously beating EHTs. Serum-free, triiodothyronine-, and hydrocortisone-supplemented medium conditions were established to prevent undefined serum effects. Control EHTs were handled identically without reinforcement. Endothelin-1 (ET-1)- or phenylephrine (PE)-stimulated EHTs served as positive control for hypertrophy. Cardiomyocytes in EHTs enlarged by 28.4 % under AE and to a similar extent by ET-1- or PE-stimulation (40.6 or 23.6 %), as determined by dystrophin staining. Cardiomyocyte hypertrophy was accompanied by activation of the fetal gene program, increased glucose consumption, and increased mRNA levels and extracellular deposition of collagen-1. Importantly, afterload-enhanced EHTs exhibited reduced contractile force and impaired diastolic relaxation directly after release of the metal braces. These deleterious effects of afterload enhancement were preventable by endothelin-A, but not endothelin-B receptor blockade. Sustained afterload enhancement of EHTs alone is sufficient to induce pathological cardiac remodeling with reduced contractile function and increased glucose consumption. The model will be useful to investigate novel therapeutic approaches in a simple and fast manner.

The German Centre for Cardiovascular Research

European Heart Journal. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22893891

Progesterone Receptor Variants Associated with the PROGINS Haplotype Exhibit Functional Properties Similar to Those of Wild-type Progesterone Receptor

Pharmacogenetics and Genomics. Aug, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22722322

The progesterone receptor (PR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor existing in two isoforms, A (PRA) and B (PRB), resulting from alternative promoter usage. It has long been speculated that genetic variants of PR are associated with the risk for various benign and malignant diseases, but data from clinical trials and in-vitro studies remain contradictory. The most extensively studied variant is termed PROGINS and consists of an intronic 320-bp Alu insertion and two coding (Ser344Thr, Val660Leu) and one silent single nucleotide polymorphism in complete linkage disequilibrium (allele frequency in Caucasians 9-19%). Our study aimed at elucidating the functional consequences of the PROGINS-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms of PRA and PRB (i.e. Thr344 and Leu660) as compared with wild-type PR (Ser344, Val660).

Increased Myocardial SERCA Expression in Early Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is Insulin Dependent: In Vivo and in Vitro Data

Cardiovascular Diabetology. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22621761

Calcium (Ca2+) handling proteins are known to play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of cardiomyopathy. However little is known about early changes in the diabetic heart and the impact of insulin treatment (Ins).

Physiological Aspects of Cardiac Tissue Engineering

American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology. Jul, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22582087

Cardiac tissue engineering aims at repairing the diseased heart and developing cardiac tissues for basic research and predictive toxicology applications. Since the first description of engineered heart tissue 15 years ago, major development steps were directed toward these three goals. Technical innovations led to improved three-dimensional cardiac tissue structure and near physiological contractile force development. Automation and standardization allow medium throughput screening. Larger constructs composed of many small engineered heart tissues or stacked cell sheet tissues were tested for cardiac repair and were associated with functional improvements in rats. Whether these approaches can be simply transferred to larger animals or the human patients remains to be tested. The availability of an unrestricted human cardiac myocyte cell source from human embryonic stem cells or human-induced pluripotent stem cells is a major breakthrough. This review summarizes current tissue engineering techniques with their strengths and limitations and possible future applications.

Complex Interactions Between Human Myoblasts and the Surrounding 3D Fibrin-based Matrix

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22558372

Anchorage of muscle cells to the extracellular matrix is crucial for a range of fundamental biological processes including migration, survival and differentiation. Three-dimensional (3D) culture has been proposed to provide a more physiological in vitro model of muscle growth and differentiation than routine 2D cultures. However, muscle cell adhesion and cell-matrix interplay of engineered muscle tissue remain to be determined. We have characterized cell-matrix interactions in 3D muscle culture and analyzed their consequences on cell differentiation. Human myoblasts were embedded in a fibrin matrix cast between two posts, cultured until confluence, and then induced to differentiate. Myoblasts in 3D aligned along the longitudinal axis of the gel. They displayed actin stress fibers evenly distributed around the nucleus and a cortical mesh of thin actin filaments. Adhesion sites in 3D were smaller in size than in rigid 2D culture but expression of adhesion site proteins, including α5 integrin and vinculin, was higher in 3D compared with 2D (p<0.05). Myoblasts and myotubes in 3D exhibited thicker and ellipsoid nuclei instead of the thin disk-like shape of the nuclei in 2D (p<0.001). Differentiation kinetics were faster in 3D as demonstrated by higher mRNA concentrations of α-actinin and myosin. More important, the elastic modulus of engineered muscle tissues increased significantly from 3.5 ± 0.8 to 7.4 ± 4.7 kPa during proliferation (p<0.05) and reached 12.2 ± 6.0 kPa during differentiation (p<0.05), thus attesting the increase of matrix stiffness during proliferation and differentiation of the myocytes. In conclusion, we reported modulations of the adhesion complexes, the actin cytoskeleton and nuclear shape in 3D compared with routine 2D muscle culture. These findings point to complex interactions between muscle cells and the surrounding matrix with dynamic regulation of the cell-matrix stiffness.

Evidence for FHL1 As a Novel Disease Gene for Isolated Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Human Molecular Genetics. Jul, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22523091

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is characterized by asymmetric left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction and myocardial disarray. HCM is caused by mutations in sarcomeric genes, but in >40% of patients, the mutation is not yet identified. We hypothesized that FHL1, encoding four-and-a-half-LIM domains 1, could be another disease gene since it has been shown to cause distinct myopathies, sometimes associated with cardiomyopathy. We evaluated 121 HCM patients, devoid of a mutation in known disease genes. We identified three novel variants in FHL1 (c.134delA/K45Sfs, c.459C>A/C153X and c.827G>C/C276S). Whereas the c.459C>A variant was associated with muscle weakness in some patients, the c.134delA and c.827G>C variants were associated with isolated HCM. Gene transfer of the latter variants in C2C12 myoblasts and cardiac myocytes revealed reduced levels of FHL1 mutant proteins, which could be rescued by proteasome inhibition. Contractility measurements after adeno-associated virus transduction in rat-engineered heart tissue (EHT) showed: (i) higher and lower forces of contraction with K45Sfs and C276S, respectively, and (ii) prolonged contraction and relaxation with both mutants. All mutants except one activated the fetal hypertrophic gene program in EHT. In conclusion, this study provides evidence for FHL1 to be a novel gene for isolated HCM. These data, together with previous findings of proteasome impairment in HCM, suggest that FHL1 mutant proteins may act as poison peptides, leading to hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction and/or altered contractility, all features of HCM.

Increased Myofilament Ca2+ Sensitivity and Diastolic Dysfunction As Early Consequences of Mybpc3 Mutation in Heterozygous Knock-in Mice

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Jun, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22465693

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is frequently caused by mutations in MYBPC3 encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C). The mechanisms leading from gene mutations to the HCM phenotype remain incompletely understood, partially because current mouse models of HCM do not faithfully reflect the human situation and early hypertrophy confounds the interpretation of functional alterations. The goal of this study was to evaluate whether myofilament Ca(2+) sensitization and diastolic dysfunction are associated or precede the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in HCM. We evaluated the function of skinned and intact cardiac myocytes, as well as the intact heart in a recently developed Mybpc3-targeted knock-in mouse model carrying a point mutation frequently associated with HCM. Compared to wild-type, 10-week old homozygous knock-in mice exhibited i) higher myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity in skinned ventricular trabeculae, ii) lower diastolic sarcomere length, and faster Ca(2+) transient decay in intact myocytes, and iii) LVH, reduced fractional shortening, lower E/A and E'/A', and higher E/E' ratios by echocardiography and Doppler analysis, suggesting systolic and diastolic dysfunction. In contrast, heterozygous knock-in mice, which mimic the human HCM situation, did not exhibit LVH or systolic dysfunction, but exhibited higher myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity, faster Ca(2+) transient decay, and diastolic dysfunction. These data demonstrate that myofilament Ca(2+) sensitization and diastolic dysfunction are early phenotypic consequences of Mybpc3 mutations independent of LVH. The accelerated Ca(2+) transients point to compensatory mechanisms directed towards normalization of relaxation. We propose that HCM is a model for diastolic heart failure and this mouse model could be valuable in studying mechanisms and treatment modalities.

Localization of Islet-1-positive Cells in the Healthy and Infarcted Adult Murine Heart

Circulation Research. Mar, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22427341

The transcription factor Islet-1 is a marker of cardiovascular progenitors during embryogenesis. The isolation of Islet-1-positive (Islet-1(+)) cells from early postnatal hearts suggested that Islet-1 also marks cardiac progenitors in adult life. Objective: We investigated the distribution and identity of Islet-1(+) cells in adult murine heart and evaluated whether their number or distribution change with age or after myocardial infarction.

[Interview by Anne-Katrin Döbler]

Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (1946). Nov, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 24350367

B-scan Ultrasonographic Monitoring of Orthotopic Xenografted Plexiform Neurofibroma in Mice

In Vivo (Athens, Greece). Nov-Dec, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 24292574

Xenografted benign tumours in immunodeficient mice provide an in vivo model to study tumour biology and the effect of agents on tumour growth. Conventionally, these small grafts can only be monitored upon sacrificing the animals. We evaluated ultrasound biomicroscopy for monitoring such grafts in vivo.

Nfat and MiR-25 Cooperate to Reactivate the Transcription Factor Hand2 in Heart Failure

Nature Cell Biology. Nov, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 24161931

Although aberrant reactivation of embryonic gene programs is intricately linked to pathological heart disease, the transcription factors driving these gene programs remain ill-defined. Here we report that increased calcineurin/Nfat signalling and decreased miR-25 expression integrate to re-express the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor dHAND (also known as Hand2) in the diseased human and mouse myocardium. In line, mutant mice overexpressing Hand2 in otherwise healthy heart muscle cells developed a phenotype of pathological hypertrophy. Conversely, conditional gene-targeted Hand2 mice demonstrated a marked resistance to pressure-overload-induced hypertrophy, fibrosis, ventricular dysfunction and induction of a fetal gene program. Furthermore, in vivo inhibition of miR-25 by a specific antagomir evoked spontaneous cardiac dysfunction and sensitized the murine myocardium to heart failure in a Hand2-dependent manner. Our results reveal that signalling cascades integrate with microRNAs to induce the expression of the bHLH transcription factor Hand2 in the postnatal mammalian myocardium with impact on embryonic gene programs in heart failure.

Contractile Abnormalities and Altered Drug Response in Engineered Heart Tissue from Mybpc3-targeted Knock-in Mice

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Oct, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23896226

Myosin-binding protein C (Mybpc3)-targeted knock-in mice (KI) recapitulate typical aspects of human hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We evaluated whether these functional alterations can be reproduced in engineered heart tissue (EHT) and yield novel mechanistic information on the function of cMyBP-C. EHTs were generated from cardiac cells of neonatal KI, heterozygous (HET) or wild-type controls (WT) and developed without apparent morphological differences. KI had 70% and HET 20% lower total cMyBP-C levels than WT, accompanied by elevated fetal gene expression. Under standard culture conditions and spontaneous beating, KI EHTs showed more frequent burst beating than WT and occasional tetanic contractions (14/96). Under electrical stimulation (6Hz, 37°C) KI EHTs exhibited shorter contraction and relaxation times and a twofold higher sensitivity to external [Ca(2+)]. Accordingly, the sensitivity to verapamil was 4-fold lower and the response to isoprenaline or the Ca(2+) sensitizer EMD 57033 2- to 4-fold smaller. The loss of EMD effect was verified in 6-week-old KI mice in vivo. HET EHTs were apparently normal under basal conditions, but showed similarly altered contractile responses to [Ca(2+)], verapamil, isoprenaline and EMD. In contrast, drug-induced changes in intracellular Ca(2+) transients (Fura-2) were essentially normal. In conclusion, the present findings in auxotonically contracting EHTs support the idea that cMyBP-C's normal role is to suppress force generation at low intracellular Ca(2+) and stabilize the power-stroke step of the cross bridge cycle. Pharmacological testing in EHT unmasked a disease phenotype in HET. The altered drug response may be clinically relevant.

Repair of Mybpc3 MRNA by 5'-trans-splicing in a Mouse Model of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Molecular Therapy. Nucleic Acids. Jul, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23820890

RNA trans-splicing has been explored as a therapeutic option for a variety of genetic diseases, but not for cardiac genetic disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an autosomal-dominant disease, characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and diastolic dysfunction. MYBPC3, encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) is frequently mutated. We evaluated the 5'-trans-splicing strategy in a mouse model of HCM carrying a Mybpc3 mutation. 5'-trans-splicing was induced between two independently transcribed molecules, the mutant endogenous Mypbc3 pre-mRNA and an engineered pre-trans-splicing molecule (PTM) carrying a FLAG-tagged wild-type (WT) Mybpc3 cDNA sequence. PTMs were packaged into adeno-associated virus (AAV) for transduction of cultured cardiac myocytes and the heart in vivo. Full-length repaired Mybpc3 mRNA represented up to 66% of total Mybpc3 transcripts in cardiac myocytes and 0.14% in the heart. Repaired cMyBP-C protein was detected by immunoprecipitation in cells and in vivo and exhibited correct incorporation into the sarcomere in cardiac myocytes. This study provides (i) the first evidence of successful 5'-trans-splicing in vivo and (ii) proof-of-concept of mRNA repair in the most prevalent cardiac genetic disease. Since current therapeutic options for HCM only alleviate symptoms, these findings open new horizons for causal therapy of the severe forms of the disease.Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e102; doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.31; published online 2 July 2013.

Phosphodiesterase-2 is Upregulated in Human Failing Hearts and Blunts β-Adrenergic Responses in Cardiomyocytes

Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Jun, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23810893

We investigated whether myocardial phosphodiesterase 2 (PDE2) is altered in heart failure (HF) and determined PDE2-mediated effects on β-adrenoceptor (AR) signaling in healthy and diseased cardiomyocytes.

Rescue of Cardiomyopathy Through U7snRNA-mediated Exon Skipping in Mybpc3-targeted Knock-in Mice

EMBO Molecular Medicine. Jul, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23716398

Exon skipping mediated by antisense oligoribonucleotides (AON) is a promising therapeutic approach for genetic disorders, but has not yet been evaluated for cardiac diseases. We investigated the feasibility and efficacy of viral-mediated AON transfer in a Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mouse model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). KI mice carry a homozygous G>A transition in exon 6, which results in three different aberrant mRNAs. We identified an alternative variant (Var-4) deleted of exons 5-6 in wild-type and KI mice. To enhance its expression and suppress aberrant mRNAs we designed AON-5 and AON-6 that mask splicing enhancer motifs in exons 5 and 6. AONs were inserted into modified U7 small nuclear RNA and packaged in adeno-associated virus (AAV-U7-AON-5+6). Transduction of cardiac myocytes or systemic administration of AAV-U7-AON-5+6 increased Var-4 mRNA/protein levels and reduced aberrant mRNAs. Injection of newborn KI mice abolished cardiac dysfunction and prevented left ventricular hypertrophy. Although the therapeutic effect was transient and therefore requires optimization to be maintained over an extended period, this proof-of-concept study paves the way towards a causal therapy of HCM.

Development of a Colorimetric and a Fluorescence Phosphatase-inhibitor Assay Suitable for Drug Discovery Approaches

Journal of Biomolecular Screening. Sep, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23606651

Protein phosphatases (PP) are interesting drug targets. However, their ubiquitous presence and involvement in different, partially opposing signal pathways suggest that specificity may be achieved rather by targeting their interaction with subunits determining substrate specificity than the enzyme itself. An interesting subunit is phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1), which, in its protein kinase A-phosphorylated form (I-1(P)), inhibits the catalytic subunit of type 1 phosphatase (PP1c). In the current study, we established a colorimetric and a fluorescence-based assay system for the identification of compounds interfering with the inhibitory effect of I-1(P) on PP1c. The fluorescence assay exhibited 500-fold higher sensitivity toward PP1c. A nine-residue peptide containing the PP1c-binding motif (RVxF) of I-1 stimulated PP1c activity in the presence of I-1(P) (EC50 27 µM and 2.3 µM in the colorimetric and fluorescence assay, respectively). This suggests that the peptide interfered with the inhibitory effect of I-1(P) on PP1c and represents a proof-of-principle. The calculated Z' factor for PP1c (0.84) and the PP1c-I-1(P) complex (0.73) confirmed the suitability of the fluorescence assay for high-throughput screenings (HTS). By testing several thousand small molecules, we suggest the advantages of kinetic measurements over single-point measurements using the fluorescence-based assay in an HTS format.

Heterozygous LmnadelK32 Mice Develop Dilated Cardiomyopathy Through a Combined Pathomechanism of Haploinsufficiency and Peptide Toxicity

Human Molecular Genetics. Aug, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23575224

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) associates left ventricular (LV) dilatation and systolic dysfunction and is a major cause of heart failure and cardiac transplantation. LMNA gene encodes lamins A/C, proteins of the nuclear envelope. LMNA mutations cause DCM with conduction and/or rhythm defects. The pathomechanisms linking mutations to DCM remain to be elucidated. We investigated the phenotype and associated pathomechanisms of heterozygous Lmna(ΔK32/+) (Het) knock-in mice, which carry a human mutation. Het mice developed a cardiac-specific phenotype. Two phases, with two different pathomechanisms, could be observed that lead to the development of cardiac dysfunction, DCM and death between 35 and 70 weeks of age. In young Het hearts, there was a clear reduction in lamin A/C level, mainly due to the degradation of toxic ΔK32-lamin. As a side effect, lamin A/C haploinsufficiency probably triggers the cardiac remodelling. In older hearts, when DCM has developed, the lamin A/C level was normalized and associated with increased toxic ΔK32-lamin expression. Crossing our mice with the Ub(G76V)-GFP ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) reporter mice revealed a heart-specific UPS impairment in Het. While UPS impairment itself has a clear deleterious effect on engineered heart tissue's force of contraction, it also leads to the nuclear aggregation of viral-mediated expression of ΔK32-lamin. In conclusion, Het mice are the first knock-in Lmna model with cardiac-specific phenotype at the heterozygous state. Altogether, our data provide evidence that Het cardiomyocytes have to deal with major dilemma: mutant lamin A/C degradation or normalization of lamin level to fight the deleterious effect of lamin haploinsufficiency, both leading to DCM.

Impact of ANKRD1 Mutations Associated with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy on Contraction Parameters of Engineered Heart Tissue

Basic Research in Cardiology. May, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23572067

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a myocardial disease associated with mutations in sarcomeric genes. Three mutations were found in ANKRD1, encoding ankyrin repeat domain 1 (ANKRD1), a transcriptional co-factor located in the sarcomere. In the present study, we investigated whether expression of HCM-associated ANKRD1 mutations affects contraction parameters after gene transfer in engineered heart tissues (EHTs). EHTs were generated from neonatal rat heart cells and were transduced with adeno-associated virus encoding GFP or myc-tagged wild-type (WT) or mutant (P52A, T123M, or I280V) ANKRD1. Contraction parameters were analyzed from day 8 to day 16 of culture, and evaluated in the absence or presence of the proteasome inhibitor epoxomicin for 24 h. Under standard conditions, only WT- and T123M-ANKRD1 were correctly incorporated in the sarcomere. T123M-ANKRD1-transduced EHTs exhibited higher force and velocities of contraction and relaxation than WT- P52A- and I280V-ANKRD1 were highly unstable, not incorporated into the sarcomere, and did not induce contractile alterations. After epoxomicin treatment, P52A and I280V were both stabilized and incorporated into the sarcomere. I280V-transduced EHTs showed prolonged relaxation. These data suggest different impacts of ANKRD1 mutations on cardiomyocyte function: gain-of-function for T123M mutation under all conditions and dominant-negative effect for the I280V mutation which may come into play only when the proteasome is impaired.

Nicotinic Acid Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NAADP)-mediated Calcium Signaling and Arrhythmias in the Heart Evoked by β-adrenergic Stimulation

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. May, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23564460

Nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP) is the most potent Ca(2+)-releasing second messenger known to date. Here, we report a new role for NAADP in arrhythmogenic Ca(2+) release in cardiac myocytes evoked by β-adrenergic stimulation. Infusion of NAADP into intact cardiac myocytes induced global Ca(2+) signals sensitive to inhibitors of both acidic Ca(2+) stores and ryanodine receptors and to NAADP antagonist BZ194. Furthermore, in electrically paced cardiac myocytes BZ194 blocked spontaneous diastolic Ca(2+) transients caused by high concentrations of the β-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol. Ca(2+) transients were recorded both as increases of the free cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration and as decreases of the sarcoplasmic luminal Ca(2+) concentration. Importantly, NAADP antagonist BZ194 largely ameliorated isoproterenol-induced arrhythmias in awake mice. We provide strong evidence that NAADP-mediated modulation of couplon activity plays a role for triggering spontaneous diastolic Ca(2+) transients in isolated cardiac myocytes and arrhythmias in the intact animal. Thus, NAADP signaling appears an attractive novel target for antiarrhythmic therapy.

PDE4 in the Human Heart - Major Player or Little Helper?

British Journal of Pharmacology. Jun, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23489196

PDEs restrict the positive inotropic effects of β-adrenoceptor stimulation by degrading cAMP. Hence, PDE inhibitors sensitize the heart to catecholamines and are therefore used as positive inotropes. On the downside, this is accompanied by exaggerated energy expenditure, cell death and arrhythmias. For many years, PDE3 was considered to be the major isoform responsible for the control of cardiac force and rhythm. However, recent work in gene-targeted mice and rodent cells has indicated that PDE4 is also involved. Furthermore, selective PDE4 inhibitors augment catecholamine-stimulated cAMP levels and induce arrhythmias in human atrial preparations, which suggests that PDE4 has a more prominent role in the human heart than anticipated, and that PDE4 inhibitors such as roflumilast may carry an arrhythmogenic risk. In this issue of the journal, a team of researchers from three laboratories report on the effect of PDE3 and PDE4 inhibitors on ventricular trabeculae from explanted human hearts. The key result is that the PDE4 inhibitor rolipram does not affect the positive inotropic effects of β₁ - or β₂ -adrenoceptor stimulation. Given that the ventricle rather than the atria is the critical region in terms of arrhythmogenic consequences, this is an important and reassuring finding.

Parthenogenetic Stem Cells for Tissue-engineered Heart Repair

The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Mar, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23434590

Uniparental parthenotes are considered an unwanted byproduct of in vitro fertilization. In utero parthenote development is severely compromised by defective organogenesis and in particular by defective cardiogenesis. Although developmentally compromised, apparently pluripotent stem cells can be derived from parthenogenetic blastocysts. Here we hypothesized that nonembryonic parthenogenetic stem cells (PSCs) can be directed toward the cardiac lineage and applied to tissue-engineered heart repair. We first confirmed similar fundamental properties in murine PSCs and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), despite notable differences in genetic (allelic variability) and epigenetic (differential imprinting) characteristics. Haploidentity of major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) in PSCs is particularly attractive for allogeneic cell-based therapies. Accordingly, we confirmed acceptance of PSCs in MHC-matched allotransplantation. Cardiomyocyte derivation from PSCs and ESCs was equally effective. The use of cardiomyocyte-restricted GFP enabled cell sorting and documentation of advanced structural and functional maturation in vitro and in vivo. This included seamless electrical integration of PSC-derived cardiomyocytes into recipient myocardium. Finally, we enriched cardiomyocytes to facilitate engineering of force-generating myocardium and demonstrated the utility of this technique in enhancing regional myocardial function after myocardial infarction. Collectively, our data demonstrate pluripotency, with unrestricted cardiogenicity in PSCs, and introduce this unique cell type as an attractive source for tissue-engineered heart repair.

A Frequent Gene Polymorphism Affecting the Heart-rate Response to Carvedilol

Pharmacogenomics. Jan, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23327570

New Tissue for Failing Hearts

European Journal of Heart Failure. Jan, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23243121

Pharmacological Characterization of 1-nitrosocyclohexyl Acetate, a Long-acting Nitroxyl Donor That Shows Vasorelaxant and Antiaggregatory Effects

The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Feb, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23211362

Nitroxyl (HNO) donors have potential benefit in the treatment of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. 1-Nitrosocyclohexyl acetate (NCA), a new HNO donor, in contrast to the classic HNO donors Angeli's salt and isopropylamine NONOate, predominantly releases HNO and has a longer half-life. This study investigated the vasodilatative properties of NCA in isolated aortic rings and human platelets and its mechanism of action. NCA was applied on aortic rings isolated from wild-type mice and apolipoprotein E-deficient mice and in endothelial-denuded aortae. The mechanism of action of HNO was examined by applying NCA in the absence and presence of the HNO scavenger glutathione (GSH) and inhibitors of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), adenylyl cyclase (AC), calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRP), and K(+) channels. NCA induced a concentration-dependent relaxation (EC(50), 4.4 µM). This response did not differ between all groups, indicating an endothelium-independent relaxation effect. The concentration-response was markedly decreased in the presence of excess GSH; the nitric oxide scavenger 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide had no effect. Inhibitors of sGC, CGRP, and voltage-dependent K(+) channels each significantly impaired the vasodilator response to NCA. In contrast, inhibitors of AC, ATP-sensitive K(+) channels, or high-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels did not change the effects of NCA. NCA significantly reduced contractile response and platelet aggregation mediated by the thromboxane A(2) mimetic 9,11-dideoxy-11α,9α-epoxymethanoprostaglandin F(2)(α) in a cGMP-dependent manner. In summary, NCA shows vasoprotective effects and may have a promising profile as a therapeutic agent in vascular dysfunction, warranting further evaluation.

A Novel Genetic Variant in the Transcription Factor Islet-1 Exerts Gain of Function on Myocyte Enhancer Factor 2C Promoter Activity

European Journal of Heart Failure. Mar, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23152444

The transcription factor Islet-1 (ISL1) is a marker of cardiovascular progenitors and is essential for mammalian cardiogenesis. An ISL1 haplotype has recently been associated with congenital heart disease. In this study we evaluated whether ISL1 variants are associated with hypertrophic (HCM), dilated (DCM), arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), or with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD).

Mybpc3 Gene Therapy for Neonatal Cardiomyopathy Enables Long-term Disease Prevention in Mice

Nature Communications. Dec, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25463264

Homozygous or compound heterozygous frameshift mutations in MYBPC3 encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) cause neonatal hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which rapidly evolves into systolic heart failure and death within the first year of life. Here we show successful long-term Mybpc3 gene therapy in homozygous Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mice, which genetically mimic these human neonatal cardiomyopathies. A single systemic administration of adeno-associated virus (AAV9)-Mybpc3 in 1-day-old KI mice prevents the development of cardiac hypertrophy and dysfunction for the observation period of 34 weeks and increases Mybpc3 messenger RNA (mRNA) and cMyBP-C protein levels in a dose-dependent manner. Importantly, Mybpc3 gene therapy unexpectedly also suppresses accumulation of mutant mRNAs. This study reports the first successful long-term gene therapy of HCM with correction of both haploinsufficiency and production of poison peptides. In the absence of alternative treatment options except heart transplantation, gene therapy could become a realistic treatment option for severe neonatal HCM.

FHL2 Expression and Variants in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Basic Research in Cardiology. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25358972

Based on evidence that FHL2 (four and a half LIM domains protein 2) negatively regulates cardiac hypertrophy we tested whether FHL2 altered expression or variants could be associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a myocardial disease characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction and increased interstitial fibrosis and is mainly caused by mutations in genes coding for sarcomeric proteins. FHL2 mRNA level, FHL2 protein level and I-band-binding density were lower in HCM patients than control individuals. Screening of 121 HCM patients without mutations in established disease genes identified 2 novel (T171M, V187L) and 4 known (R177Q, N226N, D268D, P273P) FHL2 variants in unrelated HCM families. We assessed the structural and functional consequences of the nonsynonymous substitutions after adeno-associated viral-mediated gene transfer in cardiac myocytes and in 3D-engineered heart tissue (EHT). Overexpression of FHL2 wild type or nonsynonymous substitutions in cardiac myocytes markedly down-regulated α-skeletal actin and partially blunted hypertrophy induced by phenylephrine or endothelin-1. After gene transfer in EHTs, force and velocity of both contraction and relaxation were higher with T171M and V187L FHL2 variants than wild type under basal conditions. Finally, chronic phenylephrine stimulation depressed EHT function in all groups, but to a lower extent in T171M-transduced EHTs. These data suggest that (1) FHL2 is down-regulated in HCM, (2) both FHL2 wild type and variants partially protected phenylephrine- or endothelin-1-induced hypertrophy in cardiac myocytes, and (3) FHL2 T171M and V187L nonsynonymous variants induced altered EHT contractility. These findings provide evidence that the 2 novel FHL2 variants could increase cardiac function in HCM.

Effects of Proarrhythmic Drugs on Relaxation Time and Beating Pattern in Rat Engineered Heart Tissue

Basic Research in Cardiology. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25209140

The assessment of proarrhythmic risks of drugs remains challenging. To evaluate the suitability of rat engineered heart tissue (EHT) for detecting proarrhythmic effects. We monitored drug effects on spontaneous contractile activity and, in selected cases, on action potentials (sharp microelectrode) and Ca2+ transients (Fura-2) and contraction under electrical pacing. The Ito-blocker inhibitor 4-aminopyridine increased action potential duration and T2 and caused aftercontractions, which were abolished by inhibitors of ryanodine receptors (RyR2; JTV-519) or sodium calcium exchanger (NCX; SEA0400). 77 Drugs were then tested at 1-10-100× free therapeutic plasma concentrations (FTPC): Inhibitors of IKr, IKs, Ito, antiarrhythmics (8), drugs withdrawn from market for torsades des pointes arrhythmias (TdP, 5), drugs with measurable (7) or isolated TdP incidence (13), drugs considered safe (14), 28 new chemical entities (NCE). Inhibitors of IKr or IKs had no effect alone, but substantially prolonged relaxation time (T2) when combined at high concentration. 15/33 drugs associated with TdP and 6/14 drugs considered non-torsadogenic (cibenzoline, diltiazem, ebastine, ketoconazole, moxifloxacin, and phenytoin) induced concentration-dependent T2 prolongations (10-100× FTPC). Bepridil, desipramine, imipramine, thioridazine, and erythromycin induced irregular beating. Three NCE prolonged T2, one reduced force. Drugs inhibiting repolarization prolong relaxation in rat EHTs and cause aftercontractions involving RyR2 and NCX. Insensitivity to IKr inhibitors makes rat EHTs unsuitable as general proarrhythmia screen, but favors detection of effects on Ito, IKs + Ito or IKs + IKr. Screening a large panel of drugs suggests that effects on these currents, in addition to IKr, are more common than anticipated.

The Continuum of Personalized Cardiovascular Medicine: a Position Paper of the European Society of Cardiology

European Heart Journal. Dec, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25148837

There is strong need to develop the current stratified practice of CVD management into a better personalized cardiovascular medicine, within a broad framework of global patient care. Clinical information obtained from history and physical examination, functional and imaging studies, biochemical biomarkers, genetic/epigenetic data, and pathophysiological insights into disease-driving processes need to be integrated into a new taxonomy of CVDs to allow personalized disease management. This has the potential for major health benefits for the population suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiac Arrhythmia Induced by Genetic Silencing of 'funny' (f) Channels is Rescued by GIRK4 Inactivation

Nature Communications. Aug, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25144323

The mechanisms underlying cardiac automaticity are still incompletely understood and controversial. Here we report the complete conditional and time-controlled silencing of the 'funny' current (If) by expression of a dominant-negative, non-conductive HCN4-channel subunit (hHCN4-AYA). Heart-specific If silencing caused altered [Ca(2+)]i release and Ca(2+) handling in the sinoatrial node, impaired pacemaker activity and symptoms reminiscent of severe human disease of pacemaking. The effects of If silencing critically depended on the activity of the autonomic nervous system. We were able to rescue the failure of impulse generation and conduction by additional genetic deletion of cardiac muscarinic G-protein-activated (GIRK4) channels in If-deficient mice without impairing heartbeat regulation. Our study establishes the role of f-channels in cardiac automaticity and indicates that arrhythmia related to HCN loss-of-function may be managed by pharmacological or genetic inhibition of GIRK4 channels, thus offering a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of heart rhythm diseases.

Generation of Strip-format Fibrin-based Engineered Heart Tissue (EHT)

Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25070332

This protocol describes a method for casting fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) in standard 24-well culture dishes. In principle, a hydrogel tissue engineering method requires cardiomyocytes, a liquid matrix that forms a gel, a casting mold, and a device that keeps the developing tissue in place. This protocol refers to neonatal rat heart cells as the cell source; the matrix of choice is fibrin, and the tissues are generated in rectangular agarose-casting molds (12 × 3 × 3 mm) prepared in standard 24-well cell culture dishes, in which a pair of flexible silicone posts is suspended from above. A master mix of freshly isolated cells, medium, fibrinogen, and thrombin is pipetted into the casting mold and, over a period of 2 h, polymerizes and forms a fibrin cell block around two silicone posts. Silicone racks holding four pairs of silicone posts each are used to transfer the fresh fibrin cell blocks into new 24-well dishes with culture medium. Without further handling, the cells start to remodel the fibrin gel, form contacts with each other, elongate, and condense the gel to approximately ¼ of the initial volume. Spontaneous and rhythmic contractions start after 1 week. EHTs are viable and relatively stable for several weeks in this format and can be subjected to repeated measurements of contractile function and final morphological and molecular analyses.

Prostaglandin E2 Does Not Attenuate Adrenergic-induced Cardiac Contractile Response

Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology. Oct, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24974239

Systemic inflammation may contribute to heart failure. PGE2 was recently suggested to mediate inflammation-induced impairment of cardiac function by desensitizing the murine heart to isoprenaline. Given the magnitude of the reported effect and the potential relevance, we sought to reproduce it in the human heart. Human trabeculae were prepared from the right atrial tissue obtained during heart surgery and from the right ventricle of two explanted human failing hearts. Muscle strips were electrically driven and isometric force development was measured. PGE2 was given at a single concentration (0.1 μM). Norepinephrine was used to activate β1-adrenoceptors, epinephrine to activate β2-adrenoceptors in atrial trabeculae. Isoprenaline was used in ventricular tissue. All patients were in sinus rhythm. Murine ventricular strips were used for comparison and stimulated with isoprenaline. The pharmacological activity of the PGE2 batch was confirmed by assessing concentration-dependent vasoconstriction in murine aorta. We used atrial and ventricular trabeculae from humans. Exposure to PGE2 (15 min) did not affect contractility when compared to time-matched controls. PGE2 neither altered the sensitivity or efficacy of β1- or β2-adrenoceptor-mediated stimulation of force in human atrial or in ventricular trabeculae for nonselective β1- or β2-adrenoceptor-stimulation. Surprisingly, PGE2 also did not affect -logEC50 values or maximum catecholamine-stimulated force in ventricular strips from mice, whereas it induced vasoconstriction in aortic rings with an -logEC50 of 5.0 (n = 6). Our data do not support a role for PGE2 in regulating catecholamine inotropy, neither in mice nor in humans.

Guanabenz Interferes with ER Stress and Exerts Protective Effects in Cardiac Myocytes

PloS One. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24892553

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in a variety of cardiovascular diseases. During ER stress, disruption of the complex of protein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 15A and catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 1 by the small molecule guanabenz (antihypertensive, α2-adrenoceptor agonist) and subsequent inhibition of stress-induced dephosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) results in prolonged eIF2α phosphorylation, inhibition of protein synthesis and protection from ER stress. In this study we assessed whether guanabenz protects against ER stress in cardiac myocytes and affects the function of 3 dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHT). We utilized neonatal rat cardiac myocytes for the assessment of cell viability and activation of ER stress-signalling pathways and EHT for functional analysis. (i) Tunicamycin induced ER stress as measured by increased mRNA and protein levels of glucose-regulated protein 78 kDa, P-eIF2α, activating transcription factor 4, C/EBP homologous protein, and cell death. (ii) Guanabenz had no measurable effect alone, but antagonized the effects of tunicamycin on ER stress markers. (iii) Tunicamycin and other known inducers of ER stress (hydrogen peroxide, doxorubicin, thapsigargin) induced cardiac myocyte death, and this was antagonized by guanabenz in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. (iv) ER stressors also induced acute or delayed contractile dysfunction in spontaneously beating EHTs and this was, with the notable exception of relaxation deficits under thapsigargin, not significantly affected by guanabenz. The data confirm that guanabenz interferes with ER stress-signalling and has protective effects on cell survival. Data show for the first time that this concept extends to cardiac myocytes. The modest protection in EHTs points to more complex mechanisms of force regulation in intact functional heart muscle.

Functional Improvement and Maturation of Rat and Human Engineered Heart Tissue by Chronic Electrical Stimulation

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Sep, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24852842

Spontaneously beating engineered heart tissue (EHT) represents an advanced in vitro model for drug testing and disease modeling, but cardiomyocytes in EHTs are less mature and generate lower forces than in the adult heart. We devised a novel pacing system integrated in a setup for videooptical recording of EHT contractile function over time and investigated whether sustained electrical field stimulation improved EHT properties. EHTs were generated from neonatal rat heart cells (rEHT, n=96) or human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes (hEHT, n=19). Pacing with biphasic pulses was initiated on day 4 of culture. REHT continuously paced for 16-18 days at 0.5Hz developed 2.2× higher forces than nonstimulated rEHT. This was reflected by higher cardiomyocyte density in the center of EHTs, increased connexin-43 abundance as investigated by two-photon microscopy and remarkably improved sarcomere ultrastructure including regular M-bands. Further signs of tissue maturation include a rightward shift (to more physiological values) of the Ca(2+)-response curve, increased force response to isoprenaline and decreased spontaneous beating activity. Human EHTs stimulated at 2Hz in the first week and 1.5Hz thereafter developed 1.5× higher forces than nonstimulated hEHT on day 14, an ameliorated muscular network of longitudinally oriented cardiomyocytes and a higher cytoplasm-to-nucleus ratio. Taken together, continuous pacing improved structural and functional properties of rEHTs and hEHTs to an unprecedented level. Electrical stimulation appears to be an important step toward the generation of fully mature EHT.

Dichloroacetate Prevents Restenosis in Preclinical Animal Models of Vessel Injury

Nature. Apr, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24747400

Despite the introduction of antiproliferative drug-eluting stents, coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. In-stent restenosis and bypass graft failure are characterized by excessive smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation and concomitant myointima formation with luminal obliteration. Here we show that during the development of myointimal hyperplasia in human arteries, SMCs show hyperpolarization of their mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) and acquire a temporary state with a high proliferative rate and resistance to apoptosis. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoform 2 (PDK2) was identified as a key regulatory protein, and its activation proved necessary for relevant myointima formation. Pharmacologic PDK2 blockade with dichloroacetate or lentiviral PDK2 knockdown prevented ΔΨm hyperpolarization, facilitated apoptosis and reduced myointima formation in injured human mammary and coronary arteries, rat aortas, rabbit iliac arteries and swine (pig) coronary arteries. In contrast to several commonly used antiproliferative drugs, dichloroacetate did not prevent vessel re-endothelialization. Targeting myointimal ΔΨm and alleviating apoptosis resistance is a novel strategy for the prevention of proliferative vascular diseases.

Myocardial Tissue Engineering: in Vitro Models

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Mar, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24591534

Modeling integrated human physiology in vitro is a formidable task not yet achieved with any of the existing cell/tissue systems. However, tissue engineering is becoming increasingly successful at authentic representation of the actual environmental milieu of tissue development, regeneration and disease progression, and in providing real-time insights into morphogenic events. Functional human tissue units engineered to combine biological fidelity with the high-throughput screening and real-time measurement of physiological responses are poised to transform drug screening and predictive modeling of disease. In this review, we focus on the in vitro engineering of functional human myocardium that mimics heart tissue for analysis of myocardial function, in the context of physiological studies, drug screening for therapeutics, and safety pharmacology.

Automated Analysis of Contractile Force and Ca2+ Transients in Engineered Heart Tissue

American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology. May, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24585781

Contraction and relaxation are fundamental aspects of cardiomyocyte functional biology. They reflect the response of the contractile machinery to the systolic increase and diastolic decrease of the cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration. The analysis of contractile function and Ca(2+) transients is therefore important to discriminate between myofilament responsiveness and changes in Ca(2+) homeostasis. This article describes an automated technology to perform sequential analysis of contractile force and Ca(2+) transients in up to 11 strip-format, fibrin-based rat, mouse, and human fura-2-loaded engineered heart tissues (EHTs) under perfusion and electrical stimulation. Measurements in EHTs under increasing concentrations of extracellular Ca(2+) and responses to isoprenaline and carbachol demonstrate that EHTs recapitulate basic principles of heart tissue functional biology. Ca(2+) concentration-response curves in rat, mouse, and human EHTs indicated different maximal twitch forces (0.22, 0.05, and 0.08 mN in rat, mouse, and human, respectively; P < 0.001) and different sensitivity to external Ca(2+) (EC50: 0.15, 0.39, and 1.05 mM Ca(2+) in rat, mouse, and human, respectively; P < 0.001) in the three groups. In contrast, no difference in myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity was detected between skinned rat and human EHTs, suggesting that the difference in sensitivity to external Ca(2+) concentration is due to changes in Ca(2+) handling proteins. Finally, this study confirms that fura-2 has Ca(2+) buffering effects and is thereby changing the force response to extracellular Ca(2+).

Cardiac Tissue Engineering: State of the Art

Circulation Research. Jan, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24436431

The engineering of 3-dimensional (3D) heart muscles has undergone exciting progress for the past decade. Profound advances in human stem cell biology and technology, tissue engineering and material sciences, as well as prevascularization and in vitro assay technologies make the first clinical application of engineered cardiac tissues a realistic option and predict that cardiac tissue engineering techniques will find widespread use in the preclinical research and drug development in the near future. Tasks that need to be solved for this purpose include standardization of human myocyte production protocols, establishment of simple methods for the in vitro vascularization of 3D constructs and better maturation of myocytes, and, finally, thorough definition of the predictive value of these methods for preclinical safety pharmacology. The present article gives an overview of the present state of the art, bottlenecks, and perspectives of cardiac tissue engineering for cardiac repair and in vitro testing.

Paradoxical Effects on Force Generation After Efficient β1-adrenoceptor Knockdown in Reconstituted Heart Tissue

The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Apr, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24431469

Stimulation of myocardial β(1)-adrenoceptors (AR) is a major mechanism that increases cardiac function. We investigated the functional consequences of genetic β(1)-AR knockdown in three-dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHT). For β(1)-AR knockdown, short interfering RNA (siRNA) sequences targeting specifically the β(1)-AR (shB1) and a scrambled control (shCTR) were subcloned into a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-short hairpin RNA (shRNA) expression system. Transduction efficiency was ∼100%, and radioligand binding revealed 70% lower β(1)-AR density in AAV6-shB1-transduced EHTs. Force measurements, performed over the culture period of 14 days, showed paradoxically higher force generation in AAV6-shB1 compared with shCTR under basal (0.19 ± 0.01 versus 0.13 ± 0.01 mN) and after β-AR-stimulated conditions with isoprenaline (Δfractional shortening: 72 ± 5% versus 34 ± 4%). Large scale gene expression analysis revealed that AAV6-shCTR compared with nontransduced EHTs showed only few differentially regulated genes (<20), whereas AAV6-shB1 induced marked changes in gene expression (>250 genes), indicating that β(1)-AR knockdown itself determines the outcome. None of the regulated genes pointed to obvious off-target effects to explain higher force generation. Moreover, compensational regulation of β(2)-AR signaling or changes in prominent β(1)-AR downstream targets could be ruled out. In summary, we show paradoxically higher force generation and isoprenaline responses after efficient β(1)-AR knockdown in EHTs. Our findings 1) reveal an unexpected layer of complexity in gene regulation after specific β(1)-AR knockdown rather than unspecific dysregulations through transcriptional interference, 2) challenge classic assumptions on the role of cardiac β(1)-AR, and 3) may open up new avenues for β-AR loss-of-function research in vivo.

In Vitro Perfusion of Engineered Heart Tissue Through Endothelialized Channels

Tissue Engineering. Part A. Feb, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24156346

In engineered heart tissues (EHT), oxygen and nutrient supply via mere diffusion is a likely factor limiting the thickness of cardiac muscle strands. Here, we report on a novel method to in vitro perfuse EHT through tubular channels. Adapting our previously published protocols, we expanded a miniaturized fibrin-based EHT-format to a larger six-well format with six flexible silicone posts holding each EHT (15×25×3 mm³). Thin dry alginate fibers (17×0.04×0.04 mm) were embedded into the cell-fibrin-thrombin mix and, after fibrin polymerization, dissolved by incubation in alginate lyase or sodium citrate. Oxygen concentrations were measured with a microsensor in 14-day-old EHTs (37°C, 21% oxygen) and ranged between 9% at the edges and 2% in the center of the tissue. Perfusion rapidly increased it to 10%-12% in the immediate vicinity of the microchannel. Continuous perfusion (20 μL/h, for 3 weeks) of the tubular lumina (100-500 μm) via hollow posts of the silicone rack increased mean dystrophin-positive cardiomyocyte density (36%±6% vs. 10%±3% of total cell number) and cross sectional area (73±2 vs. 48±1 μm²) in the central part of the tissue compared to nonperfused EHTs. The channels were populated by endothelial cells present in the reconstitution cell mix. In conclusion, we developed a novel approach to generate small tubular structures suitable for perfusion of spontaneously contracting and force-generating EHTs and showed that prolonged perfusion improved cardiac tissue structure.

Melusin Protects from Cardiac Rupture and Improves Functional Remodelling After Myocardial Infarction

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24130190

Melusin is a muscle-specific chaperone protein whose expression is required for a compensatory hypertrophy response to pressure overload. Here, we evaluated the consequences of melusin overexpression in the setting of myocardial infarction (MI) using a comprehensive multicentre approach.

Functional MicroRNA Library Screening Identifies the Hypoxamir MiR-24 As a Potent Regulator of Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation and Vascularization

Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. Sep, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24063572

Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are key components within the vasculature. Dependent on the stimulus, SMC can either be in a proliferative (synthetic) or differentiated state. Alterations of SMC phenotype also appear in several disease settings, further contributing to disease progression.

β 1 Adrenoceptor Antagonistic Effects of the Supposedly Selective β 2 Adrenoceptor Antagonist ICI 118,551 on the Positive Inotropic Effect of Adrenaline in Murine Hearts

Pharmacology Research & Perspectives. Oct, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26516580

Studies on the relative contribution of β 1- and β 2-adrenoceptors (AR) generally employ selective β 1- and β 2-AR antagonists such as CGP 20712A and ICI 118,551, respectively, and assume that antagonism by one of these compounds indicates mediation by the respective AR subtype. Here, we evaluated the β 2-AR-selectivity of ICI 118,551 in ventricular muscle strips of transgenic mice lacking β 1-AR (β 1-KO), β 2-AR (β 2-KO), or both (β 1/β 2-KO). Strips were electrically driven and force development was measured. In wild type (WT), ICI 118,551 (100 nmol/L) shifted the concentration-response curve (CRC) for adrenaline by about 0.5 log units to the right, corresponding to the known affinity of ICI 118,551 to β 1-AR but not to β 2-AR. Conversely, the phosphodiesterase inhibitor rolipram (10 μmol/L) shifted the CRC to the left, but did not enlarge the ICI 118,551 shift, indicating exclusive β 1-AR mediation even when PDE4 is inactive. In line with this, rolipram and ICI 118,551 had similar effects in β 2-KO than in WT. In contrast, β 1-KO did not show any inotropic reaction to adrenaline (+/- rolipram). In WT, the β 1-AR selective antagonist CGP 20712A (100 nmol/L) shifted the CRC for isoprenaline by 2.1 log units, corresponding to the affinity of CGP 20712A to β 1-AR. Rolipram increased the sensitivity to adrenaline independently of the presence of CGP 20712A. We conclude that effects sensitive to the β 2-AR antagonist ICI 118,551 are not necessarily β 2-AR-mediated and CGP 20712A-resistant effects cannot be simply interpreted as β 2-AR-mediated. Catecholamine effects in murine ventricles strictly depend on β 1-AR, even if PDE 4 is blocked.

Development of Long Noncoding RNA-Based Strategies to Modulate Tissue Vascularization

Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Nov, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26516004

Long noncoding ribonucleic acids (lncRNAs) are a subclass of regulatory noncoding ribonucleic acids for which expression and function in human endothelial cells and angiogenic processes is not well studied.

The E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Asb2β is Downregulated in a Mouse Model of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Targets Desmin for Proteasomal Degradation

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Oct, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26343497

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an autosomal-dominant disease with mutations in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins. Previous findings suggest deregulation of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) in HCM in humans and in a mouse model of HCM (Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mice). In this study we investigated transcript levels of several muscle-specific E3 ubiquitin ligases in KI mice and aimed at identifying novel protein targets.

Immunobiology of Fibrin-based Engineered Heart Tissue

Stem Cells Translational Medicine. Jun, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25947338

Different tissue-engineering approaches have been developed to induce and promote cardiac regeneration; however, the impact of the immune system and its responses to the various scaffold components of the engineered grafts remains unclear. Fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) was generated from neonatal Lewis (Lew) rat heart cells and transplanted onto the left ventricular surface of three different rat strains: syngeneic Lew, allogeneic Brown Norway, and immunodeficient Rowett Nude rats. Interferon spot frequency assay results showed similar degrees of systemic immune activation in the syngeneic and allogeneic groups, whereas no systemic immune response was detectable in the immunodeficient group (p < .001 vs. syngeneic and allogeneic). Histological analysis revealed much higher local infiltration of CD3- and CD68-positive cells in syngeneic and allogeneic rats than in immunodeficient animals. Enzyme-linked immunospot and immunofluorescence experiments revealed matrix-directed TH1-based rejection in syngeneic recipients without collateral impairment of heart cell survival. Bioluminescence imaging was used for in vivo longitudinal monitoring of transplanted luciferase-positive EHT constructs. Survival was documented in syngeneic and immunodeficient recipients for a period of up to 110 days after transplant, whereas in the allogeneic setting, graft survival was limited to only 14 ± 1 days. EHT strategies using autologous cells are promising approaches for cardiac repair applications. Although fibrin-based scaffold components elicited an immune response in our studies, syngeneic cells carried in the EHT were relatively unaffected.

LQT1-phenotypes in HiPSC: Are We Measuring the Right Thing?

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25795242

Prolonged Action Potentials in HCM-derived IPSC--biology or Artefact?

Cardiovascular Research. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25691543

Deciphering the MicroRNA Signature of Pathological Cardiac Hypertrophy by Engineered Heart Tissue- and Sequencing-technology

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25633833

Pathological cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis are modulated by a set of microRNAs, most of which have been detected in biologically complex animal models of hypertrophy by arrays with moderate sensitivity and disregard of passenger strand (previously "star") microRNAs. Here, we aimed at precisely analyzing the microRNA signature of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis by RNA sequencing in a standardized in vitro hypertrophy model based on engineered heart tissue (EHT). Spontaneously beating, force-generating fibrin EHTs from neonatal rat heart cells were subjected to afterload enhancement for 7days (AE-EHT), and EHTs without intervention served as controls. AE resulted in reduced contractile force and relaxation velocity, fibrotic changes and reactivation of the fetal gene program. Small RNAs were extracted from control and AE-EHTs and sequencing yielded almost 750 different mature microRNAs, many of which have never been described before in rats. The detection of both arms of the precursor stem-loop (pre-miRNA), namely -3p and -5p miRs, was frequent. 22 abundantly sequenced microRNAs were >1.3× upregulated and 15 abundantly sequenced microRNAs downregulated to <0.77×. Among the upregulated microRNAs were 3 pairs of guide and passenger strand microRNAs (miR-21-5p/-3p, miR-322-5p/-3p, miR-210-3p/-5p) and one single passenger strand microRNA (miR-140-3p). Among downregulated microRNAs were 3 pairs (miR-133a-3p/-5p, miR-30e-5p/3p, miR-30c-5p/-3p). Preincubating EHTs with anti-miR-21-5p markedly attenuated the AE-induced contractile failure, cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and fibrotic response, recapitulating prior results in whole animals. Taken together, AE-induced pathological hypertrophy in EHTs is associated with 37 differentially regulated microRNAs, including many passenger strands. Antagonizing miR-21-5p ameliorates dysfunction in this model.

Modelling Sarcomeric Cardiomyopathies in the Dish: from Human Heart Samples to IPSC Cardiomyocytes

Cardiovascular Research. Apr, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25618410

One of the obstacles to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of human cardiomyopathies has been poor availability of heart-tissue samples at early stages of disease development. This has possibly changed by the advent of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) from which cardiomyocytes can be derived in vitro. The main promise of hiPSC technology is that by capturing the effects of thousands of individual gene variants, the phenotype of differentiated derivatives of these cells will provide more information on a particular disease than simple genotyping. This article summarizes what is known about the 'human cardiomyopathy or heart failure phenotype in vitro', which constitutes the reference for modelling sarcomeric cardiomyopathies in hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. The current techniques for hiPSC generation and cardiac myocyte differentiation are briefly reviewed and the few published reports of hiPSC models of sarcomeric cardiomyopathies described. A discussion of promises and challenges of hiPSC-modelling of sarcomeric cardiomyopathies and individualized approaches is followed by a number of questions that, in the view of the authors, need to be answered before the true potential of this technology can be evaluated.

Assessment of DNA Synthesis in Islet-1⁺ Cells in the Adult Murine Heart

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Jan, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25450620

Islet-1 positive (Islet-1(+)) cardiac progenitor cells give rise to the right ventricle, atria and outflow tract during murine cardiac development. In the adult heart Islet-1 expression is limited to parasympathetic neurons, few cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, within the proximal aorta and pulmonary artery and sinoatrial node cells. Its role in these cells is unknown. Here we tested the hypothesis that Islet-1(+) cells retain proliferative activity and may therefore play a role in regenerating specialized regions in the heart.

Development of Phosphatase Inhibitor-1 Peptides Acting As Indirect Activators of Phosphatase 1

Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology. Mar, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25416155

Phosphatase inhibitor-1 (I-1) inhibits the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase type 1 (PP1c) in its protein kinase A (PKA)-phosphorylated form (I-1(P)). It thereby amplifies PKA signaling, which, in the heart, mediates both beneficial (acute) and adverse (chronic) effects of catecholamines. Genetic deletion of I-1 was associated with protection against catecholamine toxicity, making the PP1c-I-1(P) complex a potential therapeutic target for chronic heart disease. Here, we sought to define targetable interaction sites of I-1 and PP1c, concentrating on the N-terminal domain of I-1 which includes the PP1c binding motif ((9)KIQF(12)) as well as a poly-Arg stretch. Substitution of (9)KIQ(11) residues for analogous amino acids, (9)RLN(11), resulted in doubling of the IC50 values, deletion of (9)KIQF(12) prevented I-1 PKA-dependent phosphorylation and thus activation. Mutation of the Arg residues preceding the PKA phosphorylation site (Thr35) to Ala (R/A(30-33)) abolished I-1 phosphorylation and its binding to and inhibition of PP1c. A series of synthetic peptides (4-11 residues) indicated that the KIQF motif as well as the surrounding anchoring residues was essential for interfering with the inhibitory effect of I-1(P) on PP1c, whereas the four Arg residues were not. Unexpectedly, the most effective nonapeptide (SPRKIQFTV) also antagonized the inhibitory effect of the non-conditional PP1 inhibitor-2 with similar affinity. Incubation of neonatal rat cardiac myocytes with a poly-Arg-modified SPRKIQFTV (10 μM) reduced catecholamine-induced phosphorylation of phospholamban, a well-known PKA downstream target sensitive to PP1c. Our data reiterate the importance of the KIQF motif and provide a tool for antagonizing I-1 inhibitory effects on PP1c, i.e., activating PP1 in vivo.

Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Accelerates Relaxation and Ca(2+) Transient Decay and Desensitizes Myofilaments in Healthy and Mybpc3-Targeted Knock-in Cardiomyopathic Mice

Frontiers in Physiology. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27994558

Background: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited cardiac muscle disease with left ventricular hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction. Increased myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity could be the underlying cause of diastolic dysfunction. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCg), a catechin found in green tea, has been reported to decrease myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity in HCM models with troponin mutations. However, whether this is also the case for HCM-associated thick filament mutations is not known. Therefore, we evaluated whether EGCg affects the behavior of cardiomyocytes and myofilaments of an HCM mouse model carrying a gene mutation in cardiac myosin-binding protein C and exhibiting both increased myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity and diastolic dysfunction. Methods and Results: Acute effects of EGCg were tested on fractional sarcomere shortening and Ca(2+) transients in intact ventricular myocytes and on force-Ca(2+) relationship of skinned ventricular muscle strips isolated from Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) and wild-type (WT) mice. Fractional sarcomere shortening and Ca(2+) transients were analyzed at 37°C under 1-Hz pacing in the absence or presence of EGCg (1.8 μM). At baseline and in the absence of Fura-2, KI cardiomyocytes displayed lower diastolic sarcomere length, higher fractional sarcomere shortening, longer time to peak shortening and time to 50% relengthening than WT cardiomyocytes. In WT and KI neither diastolic sarcomere length nor fractional sarcomere shortening were influenced by EGCg treatment, but relaxation time was reduced, to a greater extent in KI cells. EGCg shortened time to peak Ca(2+) and Ca(2+) transient decay in Fura-2-loaded WT and KI cardiomyocytes. EGCg did not influence phosphorylation of phospholamban. In skinned cardiac muscle strips, EGCg (30 μM) decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity in both groups. Conclusion: EGCg hastened relaxation and Ca(2+) transient decay to a larger extent in KI than in WT cardiomyocytes. This effect could be partially explained by myofilament Ca(2+) desensitization.

Towards a Tissue-Engineered Contractile Fontan-Conduit: The Fate of Cardiac Myocytes in the Subpulmonary Circulation

PloS One. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27875570

The long-term outcome of patients with single ventricles improved over time, but remains poor compared to other congenital heart lesions with biventricular circulation. Main cause for this unfavourable outcome is the unphysiological hemodynamic of the Fontan circulation, such as subnormal systemic cardiac output and increased systemic-venous pressure. To overcome this limitation, we are developing the concept of a contractile extracardiac Fontan-tunnel. In this study, we evaluated the survival and structural development of a tissue-engineered conduit under in vivo conditions. Engineered heart tissue was generated from ventricular heart cells of neonatal Wistar rats, fibrinogen and thrombin. Engineered heart tissues started beating around day 8 in vitro and remained contractile in vivo throughout the experiment. After culture for 14 days constructs were implanted around the right superior vena cava of Wistar rats (n = 12). Animals were euthanized after 7, 14, 28 and 56 days postoperatively. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed cardiomyocytes arranged in thick bundles within the engineered heart tissue-conduit. Immunostaining of sarcomeric actin, alpha-actin and connexin 43 revealed a well -developed cardiac myocyte structure. Magnetic resonance imaging (d14, n = 3) revealed no constriction or stenosis of the superior vena cava by the constructs. Engineered heart tissues survive and contract for extended periods after implantation around the superior vena cava of rats. Generation of larger constructs is warranted to evaluate functional benefits of a contractile Fontan-conduit.

Cardiac Repair in Guinea Pigs with Human Engineered Heart Tissue from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Science Translational Medicine. Nov, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27807283

Myocardial injury results in a loss of contractile tissue mass that, in the absence of efficient regeneration, is essentially irreversible. Transplantation of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes has beneficial but variable effects. We created human engineered heart tissue (hEHT) strips from human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes and hiPSC-derived endothelial cells. The hEHTs were transplanted onto large defects (22% of the left ventricular wall, 35% decline in left ventricular function) of guinea pig hearts 7 days after cryoinjury, and the results were compared with those obtained with human endothelial cell patches (hEETs) or cell-free patches. Twenty-eight days after transplantation, the hearts repaired with hEHT strips exhibited, within the scar, human heart muscle grafts, which had remuscularized 12% of the infarct area. These grafts showed cardiomyocyte proliferation, vascularization, and evidence for electrical coupling to the intact heart tissue in a subset of engrafted hearts. hEHT strips improved left ventricular function by 31% compared to that before implantation, whereas the hEET or cell-free patches had no effect. Together, our study demonstrates that three-dimensional human heart muscle constructs can repair the injured heart.

Ca(2+)-Currents in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Effects of Two Different Culture Conditions

Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27672365

Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) provide a unique opportunity to study human heart physiology and pharmacology and repair injured hearts. The suitability of hiPSC-CM critically depends on how closely they share physiological properties of human adult cardiomyocytes (CM). Here we investigated whether a 3D engineered heart tissue (EHT) culture format favors maturation and addressed the L-type Ca(2+)-current (ICa,L) as a readout. The results were compared with hiPSC-CM cultured in conventional monolayer (ML) and to our previous data from human adult atrial and ventricular CM obtained when identical patch-clamp protocols were used. HiPSC-CM were two- to three-fold smaller than adult CM, independently of culture format [capacitance ML 45 ± 1 pF (n = 289), EHT 45 ± 1 pF (n = 460), atrial CM 87 ± 3 pF (n = 196), ventricular CM 126 ± 8 pF (n = 50)]. Only 88% of ML cells showed ICa, but all EHT. Basal ICa density was 10 ± 1 pA/pF (n = 207) for ML and 12 ± 1 pA/pF (n = 361) for EHT and was larger than in adult CM [7 ± 1 pA/pF (p < 0.05, n = 196) for atrial CM and 6 ± 1 pA/pF (p < 0.05, n = 47) for ventricular CM]. However, ML and EHT showed robust T-type Ca(2+)-currents (ICa,T). While (-)-Bay K 8644, that activates ICa,L directly, increased ICa,Lto the same extent in ML and EHT, β1- and β2-adrenoceptor effects were marginal in ML, but of same size as (-)-Bay K 8644 in EHT. The opposite was true for serotonin receptors. Sensitivity to β1 and β2-adrenoceptor stimulation was the same in EHT as in adult CM (-logEC50: 5.9 and 6.1 for norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (Epi), respectively), but very low concentrations of Rp-8-Br-cAMPS were sufficient to suppress effects (-logEC50: 5.3 and 5.3 respectively for NE and Epi). Taken together, hiPSC-CM express ICa,L at the same density as human adult CM, but, in contrast, possess robust ICa,T. Increased effects of catecholamines in EHT suggest more efficient maturation.

Is Stimulation of Cardiomyocyte Renewal a Facette of Reversible Catecholamine Toxicity?

Circulation Research. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27635079

Exogenous Nitric Oxide Protects Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Against Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27403231

Background and Aims. Human embryonic stem cell- (hESC-) derived cardiomyocytes are one of the useful screening platforms of potential cardiocytoprotective molecules. However, little is known about the behavior of these cardiomyocytes in simulated ischemia/reperfusion conditions. In this study, we have tested the cytoprotective effect of an NO donor and the brain type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in a screening platform based first on differentiated embryonic bodies (EBs, 6 + 4 days) and then on more differentiated cardiomyocytes (6 + 24 days), both derived from hESCs. Methods. Both types of hESC-derived cells were exposed to 150 min simulated ischemia, followed by 120 min reperfusion. Cell viability was assessed by propidium iodide staining. The following treatments were applied during simulated ischemia in differentiated EBs: the NO-donor S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP) (10(-7), 10(-6), and 10(-5) M), BNP (10(-9), 10(-8), and 10(-7) M), and the nonspecific NO synthase inhibitor Nω-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA, 10(-5) M). Results. SNAP (10(-6), 10(-5) M) significantly attenuated cell death in differentiated EBs. However, simulated ischemia/reperfusion-induced cell death was not affected by BNP or by L-NNA. In separate experiments, SNAP (10(-6) M) also protected hESC-derived cardiomyocytes. Conclusions. We conclude that SNAP, but not BNP, protects differentiated EBs or cardiomyocytes derived from hESCs against simulated ischemia/reperfusion injury. The present screening platform is a useful tool for discovery of cardiocytoprotective molecules and their cellular mechanisms.

Block of Na(+)/Ca(2+) Exchanger by SEA0400 in Human Right Atrial Preparations from Patients in Sinus Rhythm and in Atrial Fibrillation

European Journal of Pharmacology. Oct, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27373849

The Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX) plays a major role in myocardial Ca(2+) homoeostasis, but is also considered to contribute to the electrical instability and contractile dysfunction in chronic atrial fibrillation (AF). Here we have investigated the effects of the selective NCX blocker SEA0400 in human right atrial cardiomyocytes from patients in sinus rhythm (SR) and AF in order to obtain electrophysiological evidence for putative antiarrhythmic activity of this new class of drugs. Action potentials were measured in right atrial trabeculae using conventional microelectrodes. Human myocytes were enzymatically isolated. Rat atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes were used for comparison. Using perforated-patch, NCX was measured as Ni(2+)-sensitive current during ramp pulses. In ruptured-patch experiments, NCX current was activated by changing the extracellular Ca(2+) concentration from 0 to 1mM in Na(+)-free bath solution (100mM Na(+) intracellular, "Hilgemann protocol"). Although SEA0400 was effective in rat cardiomyocytes, 10µM did not influence action potentials and contractility, neither in SR nor AF. SEA0400 (10μM) also failed to affect human atrial NCX current measured with perforated patch. With the "Hilgemann protocol" SEA0400 concentration-dependently suppressed human atrial NCX current, and its amplitude was larger in AF than in SR cardiomyocytes. Our results confirm higher NCX activity in AF than SR. SEA0400 fails to block Ni(2+)-sensitive current in human atrial cells unless unphysiological conditions are used. We speculate that block of NCX with SEA0400 depends on intracellular Na(+) concentration.

Outcomes of Patients in Long-Term Opioid Maintenance Treatment

Substance Use & Misuse. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27355105

Despite the importance of duration of opioid maintenance treatment (OMT), only few studies have reported outcomes of long-term OMT.

Human Engineered Heart Tissue: Analysis of Contractile Force

Stem Cell Reports. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27211213

Analyzing contractile force, the most important and best understood function of cardiomyocytes in vivo is not established in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM). This study describes the generation of 3D, strip-format, force-generating engineered heart tissues (EHT) from hiPSC-CM and their physiological and pharmacological properties. CM were differentiated from hiPSC by a growth factor-based three-stage protocol. EHTs were generated and analyzed histologically and functionally. HiPSC-CM in EHTs showed well-developed sarcomeric organization and alignment, and frequent mitochondria. Systematic contractility analysis (26 concentration-response curves) reveals that EHTs replicated canonical response to physiological and pharmacological regulators of inotropy, membrane- and calcium-clock mediators of pacemaking, modulators of ion-channel currents, and proarrhythmic compounds with unprecedented precision. The analysis demonstrates a high degree of similarity between hiPSC-CM in EHT format and native human heart tissue, indicating that human EHTs are useful for preclinical drug testing and disease modeling.

Comparison of the Effects of a Truncating and a Missense MYBPC3 Mutation on Contractile Parameters of Engineered Heart Tissue

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. Aug, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27108529

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a cardiac genetic disease characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction and myocardial disarray. The most frequently mutated gene is MYBPC3, encoding cardiac myosin-binding protein-C (cMyBP-C). We compared the pathomechanisms of a truncating mutation (c.2373_2374insG) and a missense mutation (c.1591G>C) in MYBPC3 in engineered heart tissue (EHT). EHTs enable to study the direct effects of mutants without interference of secondary disease-related changes. EHTs were generated from Mybpc3-targeted knock-out (KO) and wild-type (WT) mouse cardiac cells. MYBPC3 WT and mutants were expressed in KO EHTs via adeno-associated virus. KO EHTs displayed higher maximal force and sensitivity to external [Ca(2+)] than WT EHTs. Expression of WT-Mybpc3 at MOI-100 resulted in ~73% cMyBP-C level but did not prevent the KO phenotype, whereas MOI-300 resulted in ≥95% cMyBP-C level and prevented the KO phenotype. Expression of the truncating or missense mutation (MOI-300) or their combination with WT (MOI-150 each), mimicking the homozygous or heterozygous disease state, respectively, failed to restore force to WT level. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed correct incorporation of WT and missense, but not of truncated cMyBP-C in the sarcomere. In conclusion, this study provides evidence in KO EHTs that i) haploinsufficiency affects EHT contractile function if WT cMyBP-C protein levels are ≤73%, ii) missense or truncating mutations, but not WT do not fully restore the disease phenotype and have different pathogenic mechanisms, e.g. sarcomere poisoning for the missense mutation, iii) the direct impact of (newly identified) MYBPC3 gene variants can be evaluated.

Position Paper of the European Society of Cardiology Working Group Cellular Biology of the Heart: Cell-based Therapies for Myocardial Repair and Regeneration in Ischemic Heart Disease and Heart Failure

European Heart Journal. Apr, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27055812

Despite improvements in modern cardiovascular therapy, the morbidity and mortality of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and heart failure (HF) remain significant in Europe and worldwide. Patients with IHD may benefit from therapies that would accelerate natural processes of postnatal collateral vessel formation and/or muscle regeneration. Here, we discuss the use of cells in the context of heart repair, and the most relevant results and current limitations from clinical trials using cell-based therapies to treat IHD and HF. We identify and discuss promising potential new therapeutic strategies that includeex vivocell-mediated gene therapy, the use of biomaterials and cell-free therapies aimed at increasing the success rates of therapy for IHD and HF. The overall aim of this Position Paper of the ESC Working Group Cellular Biology of the Heart is to provide recommendations on how to improve the therapeutic application of cell-based therapies for cardiac regeneration and repair.

Ataxin-10 is Part of a Cachexokine Cocktail Triggering Cardiac Metabolic Dysfunction in Cancer Cachexia

Molecular Metabolism. Feb, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26909315

Cancer cachexia affects the majority of tumor patients and significantly contributes to high mortality rates in these subjects. Despite its clinical importance, the identity of tumor-borne signals and their impact on specific peripheral organ systems, particularly the heart, remain mostly unknown.

Myocardial Tissue Engineering for Cardiac Repair

The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation : the Official Publication of the International Society for Heart Transplantation. Mar, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26856673

The number of patients with heart failure is increasing in the aging population. Heart transplantation remains the only curative treatment option for patients with end-stage heart failure. Because of an organ donor shortage, new organ-independent treatment options are necessary. Different approaches to cardiac repair therapies have been developed and optimized in recent years. One of these promising approaches is myocardial tissue engineering, which refers to the creation of 3-dimensional engineered heart tissue in vitro. This perspective provides an overview of different approaches to tissue engineering, including essentials to improve tissue quality and choice of ideal cell source, as well as an overview of in vitro and in vivo studies. Several hurdles that have to be overcome before clinical application of engineered heart tissue might become a realistic scenario are also addressed.

A New Animal Model for Investigation of Mechanical Unloading in Hypertrophic and Failing Hearts: Combination of Transverse Aortic Constriction and Heterotopic Heart Transplantation

PloS One. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26841021

Previous small animal models for simulation of mechanical unloading are solely performed in healthy or infarcted hearts, not representing the pathophysiology of hypertrophic and dilated hearts emerging in heart failure patients. In this article, we present a new and economic small animal model to investigate mechanical unloading in hypertrophic and failing hearts: the combination of transverse aortic constriction (TAC) and heterotopic heart transplantation (hHTx) in rats.

Analysis of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor-Mediated Decline in Contractile Force in Rat Engineered Heart Tissue

PloS One. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26840448

Left ventricular dysfunction is a frequent and potentially severe side effect of many tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). The mode of toxicity is not identified, but may include impairment of mitochondrial or sarcomeric function, autophagy or angiogenesis, either as an on-target or off-target mechanism.

S-glutathiolation Impairs Phosphoregulation and Function of Cardiac Myosin-binding Protein C in Human Heart Failure

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. May, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26839380

Cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) regulates actin-myosin interaction and thereby cardiac myocyte contraction and relaxation. This physiologic function is regulated by cMyBP-C phosphorylation. In our study, reduced site-specific cMyBP-C phosphorylation coincided with increased S-glutathiolation in ventricular tissue from patients with dilated or ischemic cardiomyopathy compared to nonfailing donors. We used redox proteomics, to identify constitutive and disease-specific S-glutathiolation sites in cMyBP-C in donor and patient samples, respectively. Among those, a cysteine cluster in the vicinity of the regulatory phosphorylation sites within the myosin S2 interaction domain C1-M-C2 was identified and showed enhanced S-glutathiolation in patients. In vitro S-glutathiolation of recombinant cMyBP-C C1-M-C2 occurred predominantly at Cys(249), which attenuated phosphorylation by protein kinases. Exposure to glutathione disulfide induced cMyBP-C S-glutathiolation, which functionally decelerated the kinetics of Ca(2+)-activated force development in ventricular myocytes from wild-type, but not those from Mybpc3-targeted knockout mice. These oxidation events abrogate protein kinase-mediated phosphorylation of cMyBP-C and therefore potentially contribute to the reduction of its phosphorylation and the contractile dysfunction observed in human heart failure.-Stathopoulou, K., Wittig, I., Heidler, J., Piasecki, A., Richter, F., Diering, S., van der Velden, J., Buck, F., Donzelli, S., Schröder, E., Wijnker, P. J. M., Voigt, N., Dobrev, D., Sadayappan, S., Eschenhagen, T., Carrier, L., Eaton, P., Cuello, F. S-glutathiolation impairs phosphoregulation and function of cardiac myosin-binding protein C in human heart failure.

Spontaneous Formation of Extensive Vessel-Like Structures in Murine Engineered Heart Tissue

Tissue Engineering. Part A. Feb, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26763667

Engineered heart tissue (EHT) from primary heart cells contains endothelial cells (ECs), but the extent to which ECs organize into vessel-like structures or even functional vessels remains unknown and is difficult to study by conventional methods. In this study, we generated fibrin-based mini-EHTs from a transgenic mouse line (Cdh5-CreERT2 × Rosa26-LacZ), in which ECs were specifically and inducibly labeled by applying tamoxifen (EC(iLacZ)). EHTs were generated from an unpurified cell mix of newborn mouse hearts and were cultured under standard serum-containing conditions. Cre expression in 15-day-old EHTs was induced by addition of o-hydroxytamoxifen to the culture medium for 48 h, and ECs were visualized by X-gal staining. EC(iLacZ) EHTs showed a dense X-gal-positive vessel-like network with distinct tubular structures. Immunofluorescence revealed that ECs were mainly associated with cardiomyocytes within the EHT. EC(iLacZ) EHT developed spontaneous and regular contractility with forces up to 0.1 mN. Coherent contractility and the presence of an extensive vessel-like network were both dependent on the presence of animal sera in the culture medium. Contractile EC(iLacZ) EHTs successfully served as grafts in implantation studies onto the hearts of immunodeficient mice. Four weeks after implantation, EHTs showed X-gal-positive lumen-forming vessel structures connected to the host myocardium circulation as they contained erythrocytes on a regular basis. Taken together, genetic labeling of ECs revealed the extensive formation of vessel-like structures in EHTs in vitro. The EC(iLacZ) EHT model could help simultaneously study biological effects of compounds on cardiomyocyte function and tissue vascularization.

DNA Methylation in an Engineered Heart Tissue Model of Cardiac Hypertrophy: Common Signatures and Effects of DNA Methylation Inhibitors

Basic Research in Cardiology. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26680771

DNA methylation affects transcriptional regulation and constitutes a drug target in cancer biology. In cardiac hypertrophy, DNA methylation may control the fetal gene program. We therefore investigated DNA methylation signatures and their dynamics in an in vitro model of cardiac hypertrophy based on engineered heart tissue (EHT). We exposed EHTs from neonatal rat cardiomyocytes to a 12-fold increased afterload (AE) or to phenylephrine (PE 20 µM) and compared DNA methylation signatures to control EHT by pull-down assay and DNA methylation microarray. A 7-day intervention sufficed to induce contractile dysfunction and significantly decrease promoter methylation of hypertrophy-associated upregulated genes such as Nppa (encoding ANP) and Acta1 (α-skeletal actin) in both intervention groups. To evaluate whether pathological consequences of AE are affected by inhibiting de novo DNA methylation we applied AE in the absence and presence of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors: 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (aza, 100 µM, nucleosidic inhibitor), RG108 (60 µM, non-nucleosidic) or methylene disalicylic acid (MDSA, 25 µM, non-nucleosidic). Aza had no effect on EHT function, but RG108 and MDSA partially prevented the detrimental consequences of AE on force, contraction and relaxation velocity. RG108 reduced AE-induced Atp2a2 (SERCA2a) promoter methylation. The results provide evidence for dynamic DNA methylation in cardiac hypertrophy and warrant further investigation of the potential of DNA methylation in the treatment of cardiac hypertrophy.

Knock-out of Nexilin in Mice Leads to Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Endomyocardial Fibroelastosis

Basic Research in Cardiology. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26659360

Cardiomyopathy is one of the most common causes of chronic heart failure worldwide. Mutations in the gene encoding nexilin (NEXN) occur in patients with both hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM); however, little is known about the pathophysiological mechanisms and relevance of NEXN to these disorders. Here, we evaluated the functional role of NEXN using a constitutive Nexn knock-out (KO) mouse model. Heterozygous (Het) mice were inter-crossed to produce wild-type (WT), Het, and homozygous KO mice. At birth, 32, 46, and 22 % of the mice were WT, Het, and KO, respectively, which is close to the expected Mendelian ratio. After postnatal day 6, the survival of the Nexn KO mice decreased dramatically and all of the animals died by day 8. Phenotypic characterizations of the WT and KO mice were performed at postnatal days 1, 2, 4, and 6. At birth, the relative heart weights of the WT and KO mice were similar; however, at day 4, the relative heart weight of the KO group was 2.3-fold higher than of the WT group. In addition, the KO mice developed rapidly progressive cardiomyopathy with left ventricular dilation and wall thinning and decreased cardiac function. At day 6, the KO mice developed a fulminant DCM phenotype characterized by dilated ventricular chambers and systolic dysfunction. At this stage, collagen deposits and some elastin deposits were observed within the left ventricle cavity, which resembles the features of endomyocardial fibroelastosis (EFE). Overall, these results further emphasize the role of NEXN in DCM and suggest a novel role in EFE.

Heart Regeneration

Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26597703

Regenerating an injured heart holds great promise for millions of patients suffering from heart diseases. Since the human heart has very limited regenerative capacity, this is a challenging task. Numerous strategies aiming to improve heart function have been developed. In this review we focus on approaches intending to replace damaged heart muscle by new cardiomyocytes. Different strategies for the production of cardiomyocytes from human embryonic stem cells or human induced pluripotent stem cells, by direct reprogramming and induction of cardiomyocyte proliferation are discussed regarding their therapeutic potential and respective advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, different methods for the transplantation of pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes are described and their clinical perspectives are discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cardiomyocyte Biology: Integration of Developmental and Environmental Cues in the Heart edited by Marcus Schaub and Hughes Abriel.

General Practitioners' Adherence to Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines Regarding Medication: the GP-HF Study

Clinical Research in Cardiology : Official Journal of the German Cardiac Society. May, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26552905

The adherence to the guidelines for pharmacotherapy of chronic heart failure (HF)-patients improves prognosis. Although general practitioners (GPs) treat the majority of HF-patients, information about GPs' current guideline adherence and their typical prescription rationales is sparse.

Ranolazine Antagonizes Catecholamine-induced Dysfunction in Isolated Cardiomyocytes, but Lacks Long-term Therapeutic Effects in Vivo in a Mouse Model of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Cardiovascular Research. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26531128

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is often accompanied by increased myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity and diastolic dysfunction. Recent findings indicate increased late Na(+) current density in human HCM cardiomyocytes. Since ranolazine has the potential to decrease myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity and late Na(+) current, we investigated its effects in an Mybpc3-targeted knock-in (KI) mouse model of HCM.

Pharmacokinetics of the Experimental Non-Nucleosidic DNA Methyl Transferase Inhibitor N-Phthalyl-L-Tryptophan (RG 108) in Rats

Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. May, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26525153

DNA methyl transferase (DNMT) inhibitors can re-establish the expression of tumour suppressor genes in malignant diseases, but might also be useful in other diseases. Inhibitors in clinical use are nucleosidic cytotoxic agents that need to be integrated into the DNA of dividing cells. Here, we assessed the in vivo kinetics of a non-nucleosidic inhibitor that is potentially free of cytotoxic effects and does not require cell division. The non-specific DNMT inhibitor N-phthalyl-L-tryptophan (RG 108) was injected subcutaneously in rats. Blood was drawn 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 24 hr after injection and RG 108 in plasma was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Trough levels and area under the curve (AUC) were significantly higher with multiple-dose administration and cytochrome inhibition. In this group, time to maximal plasma concentration (tmax , mean ± S.D.) was 37.5 ± 15 min., terminal plasma half-life was approximately 3.7 h (60% CI: 2.1-15.6 h), maximal plasma concentration (Cmax) was 61.3 ± 7.6 μM, and AUC was 200 ± 54 μmol·h/l. RG 108 peak levels were not influenced by cytochrome inhibition or multiple-dose administration regimens. Maximal tissue levels (Cmax in μmol/kg) were 6.9 ± 6.7, 1.6 ± 0.4 and 3.4 ± 1.1 in liver, skeletal and heart muscle, respectively. We conclude that despite its high lipophilicity, RG 108 can be used for in vivo experiments, appears safe and yields plasma and tissue levels in the range of the described 50% inhibitory concentration of around 1 to 5 μM. RG 108 can therefore be a useful tool for in vivo DNMT inhibition.

Human Engineered Heart Tissue As a Model System for Drug Testing

Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26026976

Drug development is time- and cost-intensive and, despite extensive efforts, still hampered by the limited value of current preclinical test systems to predict side effects, including proarrhythmic and cardiotoxic effects in clinical practice. Part of the problem may be related to species-dependent differences in cardiomyocyte biology. Therefore, the event of readily available human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes (CM) has raised hopes that this human test bed could improve preclinical safety pharmacology as well as drug discovery approaches. However, hiPSC-CM are immature and exhibit peculiarities in terms of ion channel function, gene expression, structural organization and functional responses to drugs that limit their present usefulness. Current efforts are thus directed towards improving hiPSC-CM maturity and high-content readouts. Culturing hiPSC-CM as 3-dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHT) improves CM maturity and anisotropy and, in a 24-well format using silicone racks, enables automated, multiplexed high content readout of contractile function. This review summarizes the principal technology and focuses on advantages and disadvantages of this technology and its potential for preclinical drug screening.

Thymosin β4 Improves Differentiation and Vascularization of EHTs

Stem Cells International. 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28191018

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) constitute a powerful tool to study cardiac physiology and represents a promising treatment strategy to tackle cardiac disease. However, iPSCs remain relatively immature after differentiation. Additionally, engineered heart tissue (EHT) has been investigated as a therapy option in preclinical disease models with promising results, although their vascularization and functionality leave room for improvement. Thymosin β4 (Tβ4) has been shown to promote the differentiation of progenitor cell lines to cardiomyocytes while it also induces angiogenic sprouting and vascular maturation. We examined the potential impact of Tβ4 to enhance maturation of cardiomyocytes from iPSCs. Assessing the expression of transcription factors associated with cardiac differentiation, we were able to demonstrate the increased generation of cells displaying cardiomyocyte characteristics in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrated, in a zebrafish model of embryonic vascular development, that Tβ4 is crucial for the proper execution of lymphatic and angiogenic vessel sprouting. Finally, utilizing Tβ4-transduced EHTs generated from mice genetically engineered to label endothelial cells in vitro, we show that treatment with Tβ4 promotes vascularization and contractility in EHTs, highlighting Tβ4 as a growth factor improving the formation of cardiomyocytes from iPSC and enhancing the performance of EHTs generated from neonatal cardiomyocytes.

Diltiazem Prevents Stress-induced Contractile Deficits in Cardiomyocytes, but Does Not Reverse the Cardiomyopathy Phenotype in Mybpc3-knock-in Mice

The Journal of Physiology. Jan, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28090637

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited cardiac illness and can lead to diastolic dysfunction, sudden cardiac death and heart failure. Treatment of HCM patients is empirical and current pharmacological treatments are unable to stop disease progression or reverse hypertrophy. In this study, we tested if the non-dihydropyridine Ca(2+) channel blocker diltiazem, which previously showed potential to stop disease progression, can improve the phenotype of a HCM mouse model (Mybpc3-targeted knock-in), which is based on a mutation commonly found in patients. Diltiazem improved contractile function of isolated ventricular cardiomyocytes acutely, but chronic application did not improve the phenotype of adult mice with a fully developed HCM. Our study shows that diltiazem has beneficial effects in HCM, but long-term treatment success is likely to depend on characteristics and cause of HCM and onset of treatment.

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