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Eur Heart J. 2011 Aug;32(15):1935-45. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq436. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

Cardioprotective effect of calcineurin inhibition in an animal model of renal disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine D, University of Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany.



Chronic kidney disease is directly associated with cardiovascular complications. Heart remodelling, including fibrosis, hypertrophy, and decreased vascularization, is frequently present in renal diseases. Our objective was to investigate the impact of calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) on cardiac remodelling and function in a rat model of renal disease.


Male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into six groups: sham-operated rats, 5/6 nephrectomized rats (Nx) treated with vehicle, CNI (cyclosporine A 5.0 or 7.5, or tacrolimus 0.5 mg/kg/day) or hydralazine (20 mg/kg twice a day) for 14 days, starting on the day of surgery. Creatinine clearance was significantly lower and blood pressure significantly higher in Nx rats when compared with controls. Morphological and echocardiographic analyses revealed increased left ventricular hypertrophy and decreased number of capillaries in Nx rats. Treatment with CNI affected neither the renal function nor the blood pressure, but prevented the development of cardiac hypertrophy and improved vascularization. In addition, regional blood volume improved as confirmed by contrast agent-based echocardiography. Hydralazine treatment did not avoid heart remodelling in this model. Gene expression analysis verified a decrease in hypertrophic genes in the heart of CNI-treated rats, while pro-angiogenic and stem cell-related genes were upregulated. Moreover, mobilization of stem/progenitor cells was increased through manipulation of the CD26/SDF-1 system.


We conclude from our studies that CNI-treatment significantly prevented cardiac remodelling and improved heart function in Nx rats without affecting renal function and blood pressure. This sheds new light on possible therapeutic strategies for renal patients at high cardiovascular risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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