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Aging Cell. 2010 Aug;9(4):592-606. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2010.00586.x. Epub 2010 May 10.

AMP-activated protein kinase deficiency exacerbates aging-induced myocardial contractile dysfunction.

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Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


Aging is associated with myocardial dysfunction although the underlying mechanism is unclear. AMPK, a key cellular fuel sensor for energy metabolism, is compromised with aging. This study examined the role of AMPK deficiency in aging-associated myocardial dysfunction. Young or old wild-type (WT) and transgenic mice with overexpression of a mutant AMPK alpha(2) subunit (kinase dead, KD) were used. AMPK alpha isoform activity, myocardial function and morphology were examined. DCF and JC-1 fluorescence probes were employed to quantify reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsim), respectively. KD mice displayed significantly reduced alpha(2) but not alpha(1) AMPK isoform activity at both ages with a greater effect at old age. Aging itself decreased alpha(1) isoform activity. Cardiomyocyte contractile function, intracellular Ca(2+) handling, and SERCA2a levels were compromised with aging, the effects of which were exacerbated by AMPK deficiency. H&E staining revealed cardiomyocyte hypertrophy with aging, which was more pronounced in KD mice. TEM micrographs displayed severe disruption of mitochondrial ultrastructure characterized by swollen, irregular shape and disrupted cristae in aged KD compared with WT mice. Aging enhanced ROS production and reduced DeltaPsim, the effects of which were accentuated by AMPK deficiency. Immunoblotting data depicted unchanged Akt phosphorylation and a significant decrease in mitochondrial biogenesis cofactor PGC-1alpha in aged groups. AMPK deficiency but not aging decreased the phosphorylation of ACC and eNOS. Expression of membrane Glut4 and HSP90 was decreased in aged KD mice. Moreover, treatment of the AMPK activator metformin attenuated aging-induced cardiomyocyte contractile defects. Collectively, our data suggest a role for AMPK deficiency in aging-induced cardiac dysfunction possibly through disrupted mitochondrial function and ROS production.

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