Send to

Choose Destination
Cardiovasc Res. 2014 Mar 15;101(4):587-96. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvu010. Epub 2014 Jan 20.

Opposing roles of Akt and STAT3 in the protection of the maternal heart from peripartum stress.

Author information

Department of Cardiology and Angiology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.



Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a pregnancy-associated cardiomyopathy in previously healthy women. Mice with a cardiomyocyte-restricted deletion of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3, CKO) develop PPCM. PI3K-Akt signalling is thought to promote cardiac hypertrophy and protection during pregnancy. We evaluated the role of activated Akt signalling in the maternal heart postpartum.


CKO mice were bred to mice harbouring an Akt transgene, specifically expressed in cardiomyocytes (CAkt(tg)) generating CKO; CAkt(tg), CAkt(tg), CKO, and wild-type sibling mice. CAkt(tg) and CKO;CAkt(tg) female mice developed PPCM with systolic dysfunction. Both genotypes displayed cardiac hypertrophy and lower capillary density, showed increased phosphorylation of p66 Src homology 2 domain containing protein and FoxO3A, and reduced expression of manganese superoxide dismutase as well as increased cathepsin D activity and increased miR-146a levels [indicative for generation of the anti-angiogenic 16 kDa prolactin (PRL)]. Cardiac inflammation and fibrosis was accelerated in CKO;CAkt(tg) and associated with high postpartum mortality. The PRL blocker, bromocriptine (BR), prevented heart failure and the decrease in capillary density in CKO;CAkt(tg) and CAkt(tg) mice. BR attenuated high mortality, up-regulation of CCL2, and cardiac inflammation as well as fibrosis in CKO;CAkt(tg). PRL infusion induced cardiac inflammation in CKO;CAkt(tg) independent of pregnancy. In neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, PRL and interferon γ (IFNγ) induced the expression of CCL2 via activation of Akt.


Postpartum Akt activation is detrimental for the peripartum heart as it lowers anti-oxidative defence and in combination with low STAT3 conditions, accelerate cardiac inflammation and fibrosis. PRL and its cleaved 16 kDa form are central for Akt-induced PPCM as indicated by the protection from the disease by PRL blockade.


Akt; Heart failure; Inflammation; Peripartum cardiomyopathy; Prolactin; STAT3

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center