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Hum Gene Ther. 2019 Mar 11. doi: 10.1089/hum.2018.150. [Epub ahead of print]

Urocortin 2 Gene Transfer Reduces the Adverse Effects of a Western Diet on Cardiac Function in Mice.

Kim YC1,2, Giamouridis D1,2, Lai NC1,2, Guo T1,2, Xia B1,2, Fu Z1,2, Gao MH1,2, Hammond HK1,2.

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1 Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California; and University of California San Diego, San Diego, California.
2 Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California.


Diabetes mellitus is associated with increased risk of heart failure. It has been previously demonstrated in mice that a single injection of adeno-associated virus 8 encoding urocortin 2 (AAV8.UCn2) increases glucose disposal in models of insulin resistance and improves the function of the failing heart. The present study tested the hypothesis that UCn2 gene transfer would reduce diabetes-related left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. Eight-week-old C57BL6 male mice were fed a Western diet (WD; 45% fat, 35% carbohydrate) for 40 weeks. At week 30, they received saline or AAV8.UCn2 (2 × 1013 genome copies/kg) via intravenous injection. Ten weeks after gene transfer, fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance, and cardiac function were measured via echocardiography and in vivo measurement of LV contractile function, and the results were compared to those of mice fed normal chow (NC; 10% fat; 70% carbohydrate). The contents of key LV signaling proteins were also measured to probe mechanisms. WD increased 12 h fasting glucose (WD: 190 ± 11 mg/dL, n = 8; NC: 105 ± 12 mg/dL, n = 7; p = 0.0004). WD tended to reduce LV peak +dP/dt (p = 0.08) and LV peak -dP/dt (p = 0.05). LV ejection fraction was unchanged. Among WD-fed mice, UCn2 gene transfer reduced 12 h fasting glucose (WD-UCn2: 149 ± 6 mg/dL, n = 8; WD-Saline: 190 ± 11 mg/dL, n = 8; p = 0.012), increased LV peak +dP/dt (p < 0.001) and LV peak -dP/dt (p = 0.013), and reduced Tau (p < 0.02), indicating beneficial effects on systolic and diastolic LV function. In addition, among WD-fed mice, UCn2 gene transfer increased LV ejection fraction (p < 0.005) and the velocity of circumferential fiber shortening (p = 0.0005). Finally, a reduction was seen in fatty infiltration of the liver in WD-fed mice that had received UCn2 gene transfer. LV samples from WD-UCn2 mice showed increased phosphorylation of the protein kinase A catalytic domain (p = 0.03). In conclusion, UCn2 gene transfer increased LV systolic and diastolic function and reduced blood glucose in mice with diabetes-related LV dysfunction, indicating that UCn2 gene transfer may be of potential therapeutic benefit.


adeno-associated virus; gene therapy; insulin resistance; type 2 diabetes


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