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J Biol Chem. 2004 Dec 10;279(50):52630-42. Epub 2004 Sep 21.

Myocardial cell death and regeneration during progression of cardiac hypertrophy to heart failure.

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Department of Molecular Cardiology, Lerner Research Institute, Taussig Cancer Center, and Cole Eye Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Cardiac hypertrophy and ensuing heart failure are among the most common causes of mortality worldwide, yet the triggering mechanisms for progression of hypertrophy to failure are not fully understood. Tissue homeostasis depends on proper relationships between cell proliferation, differentiation, and death and any imbalance between them results in compromised cardiac function. Recently, we developed a transgenic (Tg) mouse model that overexpress myotrophin (a 12-kDa protein that stimulates myocyte growth) in heart resulting in hypertrophy that progresses to heart failure. This provided us an appropriate model to study the disease process at any point from initiation of hypertrophy end-stage heart failure. We studied detailed apoptotic signaling and regenerative pathways and found that the Tg mouse heart undergoes myocyte loss and regeneration, but only at a late stage (during transition to heart failure). Several apoptotic genes were up-regulated in 9-month-old Tg hearts compared with age-matched wild type or 4-week-old Tg hearts. Cardiac cell death during heart failure involved activation of Fas, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and caspases 9, 8, and 3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage. Tg mice with hypertrophy associated with compromised function showed significant up-regulation of cyclins,cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks), and cell regeneration markers in myocytes. Furthermore, in human failing and nonfailing hearts, similar observations were documented including induction of active caspase 3 and Ki-67 proteins in dilated cardiomyopathic myocytes. Taken together, our data suggest that the stress of extensive myocardial damage from longstanding hypertrophy may cause myocytes to reenter the cell cycle. We demonstrate, for the first time in an animal model, that cell death and regeneration occur simultaneously in myocytes during end-stage heart failure, a phenomenon not observed at the onset of the disease process.

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