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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 20;102(38):13592-7. Epub 2005 Sep 9.

Reversal of amyloid-induced heart disease in desmin-related cardiomyopathy.

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Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.


Amyloid oligomers, similar to the toxic entities found in Alzheimer's disease patients and in other amyloid-based diseases, are present in cardiomyocytes derived from human heart-failure patients and in animal models of desmin-related cardiomyopathy (DRM). The R120G mutation in alpha-B-crystallin (CryAB) causes DRM and is characterized by aggresomes containing CryAB(R120G) and amyloid oligomer. In this study, we show that aggresome levels do not correlate with disease. Blocking aggresome formation results in increased levels of toxic amyloid oligomer and decreased cardiomyocyte viability. We confirmed the primary toxicity of intrasarcoplasmic amyloid accumulation in the cardiomyocytes by ectopic expression of the amyloidogenic peptide PQ81, which consists of multiple repeats of a polyglutamine tract. We then addressed the issue of disease reversibility by placing CryAB(R120G) under inducible cardiomyocyte-specific expression in transgenic mice. The mice developed aggresomes and contained high concentrations of amyloid oligomer in the heart, resulting in cardiac disease. Cessation of CryAB(R120G) expression in symptomatic mice improved cardiac function and rescued all of the animals from premature death. Rescue was accompanied by significant decreases in amyloid oligomer without a significant reduction in aggresomes. Blocking cardiac amyloid oligomer formation, even after cardiac dysfunction presents, may be a therapeutic strategy in DRM as well as in other types of cardiac disease in which significant amyloid accumulation occurs.

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