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AGEs‐RAGE axis mediates myocardial fibrosis via activation of cardiac fibroblasts induced by autophagy in heart failure

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New findings: What is the central question of this study? Does the AGEs-RAGE axis mediate myocardial fibrosis in heart failure? What is the main finding and its importance? The AGEs-RAGE axis is involved in the pathogenesis of myocardial fibrosis through CFs activation induced by autophagy in heart failure. Inhibiting AGEs-RAGE axis attenuates dysfunction in the heart and attenuates myocardial fibrosis in mice with TAC via suppressing CFs activation. Abstract: Background: Heart failure is the end stage of cardiovascular diseases, and is a critical medical condition that poses an important therapeutic challenge for physicians due to its high morbidity and mortality. Myocardial fibrosis is part of the remodeling process that occurs in heart failure. Many studies have shown that advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) are implicated in fibrosis and autophagy, but the mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we elucidate the mechanism by which the AGEs-RAGE axis mediates activation of cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) in heart failure. Methods and results: We used C57BL/6J wild-type (WT) mice to establish a model of heart failure by transverse aortic constriction (TAC). After 6 weeks of treatment, relevant indicators were detected. In mice subjected to TAC, AGEs were upregulated compared with sham mice. Inhibition of RAGE resulted in functional cardiac protection with reduced hypertrophy and fibrosis in mice after TAC. Of note, autophagy mediated the activation of CFs that transformed to myofibroblasts and contributed to fibrosis. In vitro, CFs were obtained from neonatal Sprague-Dawley rats and treated with AGEs-BSA and short hairpin RNA (shRNA) for RAGE, which to verify the results in vivo. Conclusions: These results suggest that the AGEs-RAGE axis is involved in the pathogenesis of myocardial fibrosis through CF activation induced by autophagy in heart failure. Inhibiting the AGEs-RAGE axis attenuates dysfunction in the heart and attenuates myocardial fibrosis in mice with TAC via suppressing CF activation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Cardiac fibrosis is a common pathophysiologic companion of most myocardial diseases, and is associated with systolic and diastolic dysfunction, arrhythmogenesis, and adverse outcome. Because the adult mammalian heart has negligible regenerative capacity, death of a large number of cardiomyocytes results in reparative fibrosis, a process that is critical for preservation of the structural integrity of the infarcted ventricle. On the other hand, pathophysiologic stimuli, such as pressure overload, volume overload, metabolic dysfunction, and aging may cause interstitial and perivascular fibrosis in the absence of infarction. Activated myofibroblasts are the main effector cells in cardiac fibrosis; their expansion following myocardial injury is primarily driven through activation of resident interstitial cell populations. Several other cell types, including cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, pericytes, macrophages, lymphocytes and mast cells may contribute to the fibrotic process, by producing proteases that participate in matrix metabolism, by secreting fibrogenic mediators and matricellular proteins, or by exerting contact-dependent actions on fibroblast phenotype. The mechanisms of induction of fibrogenic signals are dependent on the type of primary myocardial injury. Activation of neurohumoral pathways stimulates fibroblasts both directly, and through effects on immune cell populations. Cytokines and growth factors, such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-α, Interleukin (IL)-1, IL-10, chemokines, members of the Transforming Growth Factor-β family, IL-11, and Platelet-Derived Growth Factors are secreted in the cardiac interstitium and play distinct roles in activating specific aspects of the fibrotic response. Secreted fibrogenic mediators and matricellular proteins bind to cell surface receptors in fibroblasts, such as cytokine receptors, integrins, syndecans and CD44, and transduce intracellular signaling cascades that regulate genes involved in synthesis, processing and metabolism of the extracellular matrix. Endogenous pathways involved in negative regulation of fibrosis are critical for cardiac repair and may protect the myocardium from excessive fibrogenic responses. Due to the reparative nature of many forms of cardiac fibrosis, targeting fibrotic remodeling following myocardial injury poses major challenges. Development of effective therapies will require careful dissection of the cell biological mechanisms, study of the functional consequences of fibrotic changes on the myocardium, and identification of heart failure patient subsets with overactive fibrotic responses.
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Background -Fibronectin (FN) polymerization is necessary for collagen matrix deposition and is a key contributor to increased abundance of cardiac myofibroblasts (MF) following cardiac injury. We hypothesized that interfering with FN polymerization or its genetic ablation in fibroblasts would attenuate MF, fibrosis and improve cardiac function following ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-injury. Methods -Mouse and human MF were utilized to assess the impact of the FN polymerization inhibitor (pUR4) in attenuating pathologic cellular features such as proliferation, migration, extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and associated mechanisms. To evaluate the therapeutic potential of inhibiting FN polymerization in vivo, wildtype (WT) mice received daily intraperitoneal injections of either pUR4 or control peptide (III-11C) immediately after cardiac surgery, for seven consecutive days. Mice were analyzed seven days post-I/R to assess myofibroblast markers and inflammatory cell infiltration, or four weeks post-I/R, to evaluate long-term effects of FN inhibition on cardiac function and fibrosis. Further, inducible, fibroblast-restricted, FN gene ablated (Tcf21MerCreMer;Fnflox) mice were utilized to evaluate cell specificity of FN expression and polymerization in the heart. Results -pUR4 administration on activated MF reduced FN and collagen deposition into the ECM and attenuated cell proliferation, likely mediated through decreased c-myc signaling. pUR4 also ameliorated fibroblast migration accompanied by increased β1 integrin internalization and reduced levels of phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase (FAK) protein. In vivo, daily administration of pUR4 for seven days post-I/R significantly reduced MF markers and neutrophil infiltration. This treatment regimen also significantly attenuated myocardial dysfunction, pathologic cardiac remodeling and fibrosis up to 4 weeks post-I/R. Finally, inducible ablation of FN in fibroblasts post-I/R resulted in significant functional cardioprotection with reduced hypertrophy and fibrosis. Interestingly, addition of pUR4 to the FN ablated mice did not confer further cardioprotection, suggesting that the salutary effects of inhibiting FN polymerization may be largely mediated through effects on FN secreted from the CF lineage. Conclusions -Inhibiting FN polymerization or CF gene expression attenuates pathologic properties of MF in vitro and ameliorates adverse cardiac remodeling and fibrosis in an in vivo model of HF. Interfering with FN polymerization may be a new therapeutic strategy for treating cardiac fibrosis and HF.
Article
Myocardial interstitial fibrosis contributes to left ventricular dysfunction leading to the development of heart failure. Basic research has provided abundant evidence for the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind this lesion and the pathways by which it imparts a detrimental impact on cardiac function. Translation of this knowledge, however, to improved diagnostics and therapeutics for patients with heart failure has not been as robust. This is partly related to the paucity of biomarkers to accurately identify myocardial interstitial fibrosis and to the lack of personalized antifibrotic strategies to treat it in an effective manner. This paper summarizes current knowledge of the mechanisms and detrimental consequences of myocardial interstitial fibrosis, discusses the potential of circulating and imaging biomarkers available to recognize different phenotypes of this lesion and track their clinical evolution, and reviews the currently available and potential future therapies that allow its individualized management in heart failure patients.
Article
Autophagy is a highly conserved mechanism of lysosome-mediated protein and organelle degradation that plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular homeostasis. In the last few years, specific functions for autophagy have been identified in many tissues and organs. In the cardiovascular system, autophagy appears to be essential to heart and vessel homeostasis and function; however defective or excessive autophagy activity seems to contribute to major cardiovascular disorders including heart failure (HF) or atherosclerosis. Here, we review the current knowledge on the role of cardiovascular autophagy in physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
Article
Aging of the population contributes to the increasing prevalence of heart failure. Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process aiming to degrade both long-lived proteins and damaged or excessive cyto-organelles via the lysosomal-mediated pathway. Although autophagy is involved in the normal homeostasis of cardiovascular cells, upregulation of autophagy and its abnormal modulation by inflammation may lead to cardiovascular functional decline and heart failure. Despite major improvements in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, heart failure remains one of the major diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Here, we review the cardiovascular autophagy and its interplay with inflammation which may lead to heart failure exploring some potential treatment options.
Article
Heart failure is the consequence of sustained, abnormal neurohormonal and mechanical stress and remains a leading cause of death worldwide. The aim of this work was to identify whether blockade of receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) protected against systolic overload-induced heart failure and investigate the possible underlying mechanism. It was found that RAGE mRNA and protein expression was up-regulated in cardiac tissues from mice subjected to pressure overload by transverse aortic constriction (TAC). Importantly, inhibition of RAGE by treatment with soluble RAGE (sRAGE) or FPS-ZM1 (a high-affinity RAGE-specific inhibitor) for 8 weeks attenuated cardiac remodeling (including cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis), and dysfunction in mice exposed to TAC. Furthermore, treatment of TAC mice with sRAGE or FPS-ZM1 enhanced phosphorylation of AMPK and reduced phosphorylation of mTOR and protein expression of NFκB p65 in cardiac tissues. In addition, treatment of TAC mice with sRAGE or FPS-ZM1 abated oxidative stress, attenuated endoplasmic reticulum stress, and suppressed inflammation in cardiac tissues. These data demonstrated the benefits of blocking RAGE on the progression of systolic overload-induced heart failure in mice, which was possibly through modulating AMPK/mTOR and NFκB pathways.
Article
The heart must continuously pump blood to supply the body with oxygen and nutrients. To maintain the high energy consumption required by this role, the heart is equipped with multiple complex biological systems that allow adaptation to changes of systemic demand. The processes of growth (hypertrophy), angiogenesis, and metabolic plasticity are critically involved in maintenance of cardiac homeostasis. Cardiac hypertrophy is classified as physiological when it is associated with normal cardiac function or as pathological when associated with cardiac dysfunction. Physiological hypertrophy of the heart occurs in response to normal growth of children or during pregnancy, as well as in athletes. In contrast, pathological hypertrophy is induced by factors such as prolonged and abnormal hemodynamic stress, due to hypertension, myocardial infarction etc. Pathological hypertrophy is associated with fibrosis, capillary rarefaction, increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and cellular dysfunction (impairment of signaling, suppression of autophagy, and abnormal cardiomyocyte/non-cardiomyocyte interactions), as well as undesirable epigenetic changes, with these complex responses leading to maladaptive cardiac remodeling and heart failure. This review describes the key molecules and cellular responses involved in physiological/pathological cardiac hypertrophy.
Article
Myocardial fibrosis is a significant global health problem associated with nearly all forms of heart disease. Cardiac fibroblasts comprise an essential cell type in the heart that is responsible for the homeostasis of the extracellular matrix; however, upon injury, these cells transform to a myofibroblast phenotype and contribute to cardiac fibrosis. This remodeling involves pathological changes that include chamber dilation, cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and apoptosis, and ultimately leads to the progression to heart failure. Despite the critical importance of fibrosis in cardiovascular disease, our limited understanding of the cardiac fibroblast impedes the development of potential therapies that effectively target this cell type and its pathological contribution to disease progression. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding the origins and roles of fibroblasts, mediators and signaling pathways known to influence fibroblast function after myocardial injury, as well as novel therapeutic strategies under investigation to attenuate cardiac fibrosis.
Article
Heart failure is considered an epidemic disease in the modern world affecting approximately 1% to 2% of adult population. It presents a multifactorial, systemic disease, in which-after cardiac injury-structural, neurohumoral, cellular, and molecular mechanisms are activated and act as a network to maintain physiological functioning. These coordinated, complex processes lead to excessive volume overload, increased sympathetic activity, circulation redistribution, and result in different, parallel developing clinical signs and symptoms. These signs and symptoms sum up to an unspecific clinical picture; thus invasive and noninvasive diagnostic tools are used to get an accurate diagnosis and to specify the underlying cause. The most important, outcome determining factor in heart failure is its constant progression. Constant optimizing of pharmatherapeutical regimes, novel targets, and fine regulation of these processes try to keep these compensatory mechanisms in a physiological range. Beside pharmacological therapy, interventional and surgical therapy options give new chances in the management of heart failure. For the optimization and establishment of these and novel therapeutical approaches, complete and comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanisms is essentially needed. Besides diagnosis and treatment, efforts should be made for better prevention in heart failure by treatment of risk factors, or identifying and following risk groups. This summary of the pathophysiology of heart failure tries to give a compact overview of basic mechanisms and of the novel unfolding, progressive theory of heart failure to contribute to a more comprehensive knowledge of the disease. (C) 2016 American Physiological Society.
Article
Fibroblasts produce and turn over collagenous extracellular matrix as part of the normal adaptive response to increased mechanical load in the heart, e.g. during prolonged exercise. However, chronic overload as a consequence of hypertension or myocardial injury trigger a repair program that culminates in the formation of myofibroblasts. Myofibroblasts are opportunistically activated from various precursor cells that all acquire a phenotype promoting excessive collagen secretion and contraction of the neo-matrix into stiff scar tissue. Stiff fibrotic tissue reduces heart distensibility, impedes pumping and valve function, contributes to diastolic and systolic dysfunction, and affects myocardial electrical transmission, potentially leading to arrhythmia and heart failure. Here, we discuss how mechanical factors, such as matrix stiffness and strain, are feeding back and cooperate with cytokine signals to drive myofibroblast activation. We elaborate on the importance of considering the mechanical boundary conditions in the heart to generate better cell culture models for mechanistic studies of cardiac fibroblast function. Elements of the force transmission and mechanoperception apparatus acting in myofibroblasts are presented as potential therapeutic targets to treat fibrosis.
Article
The Journal of Physiology and Experimental Physiology have always used UK legislation as the basis of their policy on ethical standards in experiments on non-human animals. However, for international journals with authors, editors and referees from outside the UK the policy can lack transparency and is sometimes cumbersome, requiring the intervention of a Senior Ethics Reviewer or advice from external experts familiar with UK legislation. The journals have therefore decided to set out detailed guidelines for how authors should report experimental procedures that involve animals. As well as helping authors, this new clarity will facilitate the review process and decision making where there are questions regarding animal ethics. © 2015 The Authors. Experimental Physiology © 2015 The Physiological Society.
Article
sRAGE can protect cardiomyocytes from apoptosis induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). However, the signaling mechanisms in cardioprotection by sRAGE are currently unknown. We investigated the cardioprotective effect and potential molecular mechanisms of sRAGE inhibition on apoptosis in the mouse myocardial I/R as an in vivo model and neonatal rat cardiomyocyte subjected to ischemic buffer as an in vitro model. Cardiac function and myocardial infarct size following by I/R were evaluated with echocardiography and Evans blue/2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride. Apoptosis was detected by TUNEL staining and caspase-3 activity. Expression of the apoptosis-related proteins p53, Bax, Bcl-2, JAK2/p-JAK2, STAT3/p-STAT3, AKT/p-AKT, ERK/p-ERK, STAT5A/p-STAT5A and STAT6/p-STAT6 were detected by western blot analysis in the presence and absence of the JAK2 inhibitor AG 490. sRAGE (100 µg/day) improved the heart function in mice with I/R: the left ventricular ejection fraction and fractional shortening were increased by 42 and 57 %, respectively; the infarct size was decreased by 52 %, the TUNEL-positive myocytes by 66 %, and activity of caspase-3 by 24 %, the protein expression of p53 and ratio of Bax to Bcl-2 by 29 and 88 %, respectively; protein expression of the p-JAK2, p-STAT3 and p-AKT were increased by 92, 280 and 31 %, respectively. sRAGE have no effect on protein expression of p-ERK1/2, p-STAT5A and p-STAT6 following by I/R. sRAGE (900 nmol/L) exhibited anti-apoptotic effects in cardiomyocytes by decreasing TUNEL-positive myocytes by 67 % and caspase-3 activity by 20 %, p53 protein level and the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio by 58 and 86 %, respectively; increasing protein expression of the p-JAK2 and p-STAT3 by 26 and 156 %, respectively, p-AKT protein level by 33 %. The anti-apoptotic effects of sRAGE following I/R were blocked by JAK2 inhibitor AG 490. The effect of sRAGE reduction on TUNEL-positive myocytes and caspase-3 activity were abolished by PI3K inhibitor LY294002, but not ERK 1/2 inhibitor PD98059. These results suggest that sRAGE protects cardiomyocytes from apoptosis induced by I/R in vitro and in vivo by activating the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway.
Article
Chronic hyperglycemia is one of the main characteristics of diabetes. Persistent exposure to elevated glucose levels has been recognized as one of the major causal factors of diabetic complications. In pathologies, like type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), mechanical and biochemical stimuli activate profibrotic signaling cascades resulting in myocardial fibrosis and subsequent impaired cardiac performance due to ventricular stiffness. High levels of glucose nonenzymatically react with long-lived proteins, such as collagen, to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGE-modified collagen increase matrix stiffness making it resistant to hydrolytic turnover, resulting in an accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. AGEs account for many of the diabetic cardiovascular complications through their engagement of the receptor for AGE (RAGE). AGE/RAGE activation stimulates the secretion of numerous profibrotic growth factors, promotes increased collagen deposition leading to tissue fibrosis, as well as increased RAGE expression. To date, the AGE/RAGE cascade is not fully understood. In this review, we will discuss one of the major fibrotic signaling pathways, the AGE/RAGE signaling cascade, as well as propose an alternate pathway via Rap1a that may offer insight into cardiovascular ECM remodeling in T2DM. In a series of studies, we demonstrate a role for Rap1a in the regulation of fibrosis and myofibroblast differentiation in isolated diabetic and non-diabetic fibroblasts. While these studies are still in a preliminary stage, inhibiting Rap1a protein expression appears to down-regulate the molecular switch used to activate the ζ isotype of protein kinase C thereby promote AGE/RAGE-mediated fibrosis.
Article
Neutrophil activation by inflammatory stimuli and the release of extracellular chromatin structures, (neutrophil extracellular traps - NETs), have been implicated in inflammatory disorders. Herein, we demonstrate that NETs released by neutrophils treated either with fibrosis-related agents, such as cigarette smoke, magnesium silicate, bleomycin or generic NET inducers, such as phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, induced activation of lung fibroblasts (LFs) and differentiation into myofibroblast (MF) phenotype. Interestingly, the aforementioned agents or IL-17 (a primary initiator of inflammation/fibrosis) had no direct effect on LF activation and differentiation. MFs treated with NETs demonstrated increased connective tissue growth factor expression, collagen production and proliferation/migration. These fibrotic effects were significantly decreased after degradation of NETs with DNase1, heparin or myeloperoxidase inhibitor, indicating the key role of NET-derived components in LF differentiation and function. Furthermore, IL-17 was expressed in NETs and promoted the fibrotic activity of differentiated LFs but not their differentiation, suggesting that priming by DNA and histones is essential for IL-17-driven fibrosis. Additionally, autophagy was identified as orchestrator of NET formation, as shown by inhibition studies using bafilomycin A1 or wortmannin. The above findings were further supported by the detection of NETs in close proximity to alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expressing fibroblasts in biopsies from patients with fibrotic interstitial lung disease or from skin scar tissue. Together these data suggest that both autophagy and NETs are not only involved in inflammation but also in the ensuing fibrosis and thus may represent potential therapeutic targets in human fibrotic diseases.
Article
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is expressed in the heart in cardiomyocytes, vascular cells, fibroblasts, and in infiltrating inflammatory cells. Experiments in murine, rat, and swine models of injury suggest that RAGE and the ligands of RAGE are upregulated in key injuries to the heart, including ischemia/reperfusion injury, diabetes, and inflammation. Pharmacological antagonism of RAGE or genetic deletion of the receptor in mice is strikingly protective in models of these stresses. Data emerging from human studies suggest that measurement of levels of RAGE ligands or soluble RAGEs in plasma or serum may correlate with the degree of heart failure. Taken together, the ligand-RAGE axis is implicated in heart failure and we predict that therapeutic antagonism of RAGE might be a unique target for therapeutic intervention in this disorder.
Article
Pentosidine, one of the advanced glycation end products (AGE), is generated by nonenzymatic glycation and oxidation of proteins. The receptor of AGE (RAGE) is expressed in a variety of tissue, and interaction of AGE with RAGE induces oxidative stress and activation of intracellular signaling, causing production of cytokines and mediators of inflammation. We investigated whether serum pentosidine is a risk factor for heart failure. Serum pentosidine concentration was measured in 141 patients with heart failure and 18 control subjects by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Patients were prospectively followed during a median follow-up period of 479 days with end points of cardiac death or rehospitalization. Serum concentration of pentosidine was significantly higher in New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class III/IV patients than in NYHA class I/II patients (P < .0001). Serum pentosidine was also higher in patients with cardiac events than in event-free patients (P < .001). In the univariate Cox proportional hazard analysis, age, NYHA class, pentosidine, creatinine, uric acid, B-type natriuretic peptide, left ventricular end-systolic volume, and left ventricular mass were significant risk factors to predict cardiac events. In the multivariate Cox analysis, serum pentosidine concentration was an independent risk factor for cardiac events (hazard ratio 1.88, 95% confidence interval 1.23-2.69, P = .002). The highest 4th quartile of pentosidine was associated with the highest risk of cardiac events (4.52-fold). Serum pentosidine concentration is an independent prognostic factor for heart failure, and this new marker may be useful for risk stratification of patients with heart failure. Patients were divided into 4 groups based on the serum pentosidine levels.
Article
Many cell types alter their morphology and gene expression profile when grown on chemically equivalent surfaces with different rigidities. One expectation of this change in morphology and composition is that the cell's internal stiffness, governed by cytoskeletal assembly and production of internal stresses, will change as a function of substrate stiffness. Atomic force microscopy was used to measure the stiffness of fibroblasts grown on fibronectin-coated polyacrylamide gels of shear moduli varying between 500 and 40,000 Pa. Indentation measurements show that the cells' elastic moduli were equal to, or slightly lower than, those of their substrates for a range of soft gels and reached a saturating value at a substrate rigidity of 20 kPa. The amount of cross-linked F-actin sedimenting at low centrifugal force also increased with substrate stiffness. Together with enhanced actin polymerization and cross-linking, active contraction of the cytoskeleton can also modulate stiffness by exploiting the nonlinear elasticity of semiflexible biopolymer networks. These results suggest that within a range of stiffness spanning that of soft tissues, fibroblasts tune their internal stiffness to match that of their substrate, and modulation of cellular stiffness by the rigidity of the environment may be a mechanism used to direct cell migration and wound repair.
Myocardial interstitial fibrosis in heart failure
  • González A.