Abstract 301: Targeting Mixed Lineage Kinases in pathological cardiac fibroblast activation and intercellular communication
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the final clinical iteration, heart failure (HF), affect more than 82 million Americans yearly, affects >5.7 million). Although the cardiac myocyte has long been the focus of cardiac cellular research, our lab and others have demonstrated that pathological activation of cardiac fibroblasts (CF) after onset of disease or cardiac injury is also a key player in HF pathogenesis. Pathologic activation of CFs causes a release of various paracrine and autocrine factors that target cardiomyocytes (CM), local inflammatory cells and the CFs themselves. Elucidating the mechanisms involved in pathological ‘support cell (CF)’- ‘functional cell (CM)’ communication may hold therapeutic promise.
Mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) is a stress activated mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK) involved in pro-apoptotic pathways. Inhibition of MLK3 in HAND results in the attenuation of microglial cell activation, preservation of neuronal function and synaptic structures. The parity between microglia-neuron communication and CF-CM communication and the effects of pathological activation on the respective support cells for each tissue type suggested a role for MLK3 in aberrant CF-CM cross-talk associated with the development and progression of HF. Preliminary data in mice subjected to a pharmacological model of HF (chronic isoproterenol) that were treated with a small molecule inhibitor (URMC-099) of MLK3 demonstrated a reduction in the development of myocardial fibrosis compared to vehicle treated animals. Additionally, small molecule MLK3 inhibition attenuated the development of myocardial hypertrophy as measured by heart weight: body weight and heart weight: tibia length ratios. Studies in cultured neonatal rat ventricular fibroblasts (NRVF) demonstrated that small molecule MLK3 inhibition attenuated CF activation and transition to a myofibroblast phenotype, including reductions of pathologic CF markers such as α-SMA, IL-6, IL-1β, and others. Our data demonstrate that MLK3 plays an important role in pathologic CF-CM communication and myocardial hypertrophy, and suggest that small molecule inhibition of MLK3 holds therapeutic promise for HF.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.