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PLoS One. 2016 Dec 15;11(12):e0168255. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168255. eCollection 2016.

GSK-3β/NFAT Signaling Is Involved in Testosterone-Induced Cardiac Myocyte Hypertrophy.

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Laboratorio de Endocrinología Celular, Programa de Fisiología y Biofísica, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Programa de Anatomía y Biología del Desarrollo, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Heart Failure Bioscience Department, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases (CVMD), Innovative Medicines & Early Development iMED Biotech unit, AstraZeneca R&D, Mölndal, Sweden.


Testosterone induces cardiac hypertrophy through a mechanism that involves a concerted crosstalk between cytosolic and nuclear signaling pathways. Nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) is associated with the promotion of cardiac hypertrophy, glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) is considered to function as a negative regulator, mainly by modulating NFAT activity. However, the role played by calcineurin-NFAT and GSK-3β signaling in testosterone-induced cardiac hypertrophy has remained unknown. Here, we determined that testosterone stimulates cardiac myocyte hypertrophy through NFAT activation and GSK-3β inhibition. Testosterone increased the activity of NFAT-luciferase (NFAT-Luc) in a time- and dose-dependent manner, with the activity peaking after 24 h of stimulation with 100 nM testosterone. NFAT-Luc activity induced by testosterone was blocked by the calcineurin inhibitors FK506 and cyclosporine A and by 11R-VIVIT, a specific peptide inhibitor of NFAT. Conversely, testosterone inhibited GSK-3β activity as determined by increased GSK-3β phosphorylation at Ser9 and β-catenin protein accumulation, and also by reduction in β-catenin phosphorylation at residues Ser33, Ser37, and Thr41. GSK-3β inhibition with 1-azakenpaullone or a GSK-3β-targeting siRNA increased NFAT-Luc activity, whereas overexpression of a constitutively active GSK-3β mutant (GSK-3βS9A) inhibited NFAT-Luc activation mediated by testosterone. Testosterone-induced cardiac myocyte hypertrophy was established by increased cardiac myocyte size and [3H]-leucine incorporation (as a measurement of cellular protein synthesis). Calcineurin-NFAT inhibition abolished and GSK-3β inhibition promoted the hypertrophy stimulated by testosterone. GSK-3β activation by GSK-3βS9A blocked the increase of hypertrophic markers induced by testosterone. Moreover, inhibition of intracellular androgen receptor prevented testosterone-induced NFAT-Luc activation. Collectively, these results suggest that cardiac myocyte hypertrophy induced by testosterone involves a cooperative mechanism that links androgen signaling with the recruitment of NFAT through calcineurin activation and GSK-3β inhibition.

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