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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2006 Oct;41(4):689-97. Epub 2006 Aug 22.

Activin A inhibits organization of sarcomeric proteins in cardiomyocytes induced by leukemia inhibitory factor.

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  • 1Institute for Experimental Medical Research, UllevĂ„l University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


Cytokine systems are activated in heart failure, and it is believed that interaction between such systems may be important during progression of this disorder. We have previously shown that failing hearts have increased levels of the interleukin-6 related cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and activin A, a member of the transforming growth factor-beta family. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of activin A on cardiomyocytes and a potential interaction with LIF-mediated changes in cell signaling and growth. Cardiomyocytes were isolated from 1- to 3-day-old Wistar rats, and the cells were treated with LIF, activin A or a combination thereof. Our main findings were: (i) activin A treatment reduced the LIF-mediated increase in cardiomyocyte length, perimeter and sarcomeric organization and was accompanied by a substantially decreased alpha-skeletal actin gene expression. (ii) The activin A-mediated phosphorylation of Smad2 was markedly enhanced by LIF. (iii) Activin A markedly induced SOCS3 gene expression, while LIF potently increased the expression of Smad7 mRNA, representing inhibitors of LIF and activin A signaling pathways, respectively. (iv) Inhibiting activation of the Smad2/3 pathway abolished the effects of activin A on LIF-induced changes in cell length, perimeter and sarcomeric organization. In conclusion, activin A markedly attenuates LIF-induced changes in cardiomyocytes, reflecting a potentially important role for both activin A and the Smad2/3 pathway in regulation of myocardial remodeling.

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