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Circulation. 1999 Jan 26;99(3):384-91.

Increased protein kinase C activity and expression of Ca2+-sensitive isoforms in the failing human heart.

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Cardiovascular Research, Eli Lilly and Co, Indianapolis, Ind 46285-0520, USA.



Increased expression of Ca2+-sensitive protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms may be important markers of heart failure. Our aim was to determine the relative expression of PKC-beta1, -beta2, and -alpha in failed and nonfailed myocardium.


Explanted hearts of patients in whom dilated cardiomyopathy or ischemic cardiomyopathy was diagnosed were examined for PKC isoform content by Western blot, immunohistochemistry, enzymatic activity, and in situ hybridization and compared with nonfailed left ventricle. Quantitative immunoblotting revealed significant increases of >40% in PKC-beta1 (P<0.05) and -beta2 (P<0.04) membrane expression in failed hearts compared with nonfailed; PKC-alpha expression was significantly elevated by 70% in membrane fractions (P<0.03). PKC-epsilon expression was not significantly changed. In failed left ventricle, PKC-beta1 and -beta2 immunostaining was intense throughout myocytes, compared with slight, scattered staining in nonfailed myocytes. PKC-alpha immunostaining was also more evident in cardiomyocytes from failed hearts with staining primarily localized to intercalated disks. In situ hybridization revealed increased PKC-beta1 and -beta2 mRNA expression in cardiomyocytes of failed heart tissue. PKC activity was significantly increased in membrane fractions from failed hearts compared with nonfailed (1021+/-189 versus 261+/-89 pmol. mg-1. min-1, P<0.01). LY333531, a selective PKC-beta inhibitor, significantly decreased PKC activity in membrane fractions from failed hearts by 209 pmol. min-1. mg-1 (versus 42.5 pmol. min-1. mg-1 in nonfailed, P<0.04), indicating a greater contribution of PKC-beta to total PKC activity in failed hearts.


In failed human heart, PKC-beta1 and -beta2 expression and contribution to total PKC activity are significantly increased. This may signal a role for Ca2+-sensitive PKC isoforms in cardiac mechanisms involved in heart failure.

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