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Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Nov;5(6):812-8. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.112.969543. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Expression of the irisin precursor FNDC5 in skeletal muscle correlates with aerobic exercise performance in patients with heart failure.

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Division of Nephrology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.



Exercise-induced increase in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) expression has been shown to increase the expression of the fibronectin type III domain containing 5 (FNDC5) gene and thereby its product, irisin, in mice. Given that exercise intolerance is a hallmark characteristic of heart failure (HF), and because PGC-1α and irisin promote exercise benefits in animals, we hypothesized that expression of these genes relates to aerobic performance in patients with HF.


Systolic HF (left ventricular ejection fraction ≤40%) patients underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing to evaluate aerobic performance. High versus low aerobic performance was assessed using oxygen consumption (peak Vo(2) [>14 versus ≤14 mL O(2)·kg(-1)·min(-1)]) and ventilatory efficiency (VE/Vco(2) slope [<34 versus ≥34]). Muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis and real-time polymerase chain reaction were used to quantify muscle gene expression. Twenty-four patients were studied. FNDC5 (5.7±3.5 versus 3.1±1.2, P<0.05) and PGC-1α (9.9±5.9 versus 4.5±1.9, P<0.01) gene expressions were greater in the high-peak Vo(2) group; correlation between FNDC5 and PGC-1α was significant (r=0.56, P<0.05) only in the high-peak Vo(2) group. Similarly, FNDC5 and PGC-1α gene expression was greater in the high-performance group based on lower VE/Vco(2) slopes (5.8±3.6 versus 3.3±1.4, P<0.05 and 9.7±6 versus 5.3±3.4, P<0.05); FNDC5 also correlated with PGC-1α (r=0.55, P<0.05) only in the low VE/Vco(2) slope group.


This is the first study to show that FNDC5 expression relates to functional capacity in a human HF population. Lower FNDC5 expression may underlie reduced aerobic performance in HF patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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