The prognosis of heart failure is worse than that of most cancers, but new therapeutic interventions using stem and other cell-based therapies are succeeding in the fight against it, and old drugs, with new twists, are making a comeback. Genetically engineered animal models are driving insights into the molecular mechanisms that cause hearts to fail, accelerating drug discoveries, and inspiring cell-based therapeutic interventions for both acquired and inheritable cardiac diseases.
Ivor J. Benjamin, Michael D. Schneider
A constant supply of oxygen is indispensable for cardiac viability and function. However, the role of oxygen and oxygen-associated processes in the heart is complex, and they and can be either beneficial or contribute to cardiac dysfunction and death. As oxygen is a major determinant of cardiac gene expression, and a critical participant in the formation of ROS and numerous other cellular processes, consideration of its role in the heart is essential in understanding the pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction.
Frank J. Giordano
There is growing evidence that the altered production and/or spatiotemporal distribution of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species creates oxidative and/or nitrosative stresses in the failing heart and vascular tree, which contribute to the abnormal cardiac and vascular phenotypes that characterize the failing cardiovascular system. These derangements at the integrated system level can be interpreted at the cellular and molecular levels in terms of adverse effects on signaling elements in the heart, vasculature, and blood that subserve cardiac and vascular homeostasis.
Joshua M. Hare, Jonathan S. Stamler
Factors that render patients with cardiovascular disease at high risk for heart failure remain incompletely defined. Recent insights into molecular genetic causes of myocardial diseases have highlighted the importance of single-gene defects in the pathogenesis of heart failure. Through analyses of the mechanisms by which a mutation selectively perturbs one component of cardiac physiology and triggers cell and molecular responses, studies of human gene mutations provide a window into the complex processes of cardiac remodeling and heart failure. Knowledge gleaned from these studies shows promise for defining novel therapeutic targets for genetic and acquired causes of heart failure.
Hiroyuki Morita, Jonathan Seidman, Christine E. Seidman
In broad terms, there are 3 types of cardiac hypertrophy: normal growth, growth induced by physical conditioning (i.e., physiologic hypertrophy), and growth induced by pathologic stimuli. Recent evidence suggests that normal and exercise-induced cardiac growth are regulated in large part by the growth hormone/IGF axis via signaling through the PI3K/Akt pathway. In contrast, pathological or reactive cardiac growth is triggered by autocrine and paracrine neurohormonal factors released during biomechanical stress that signal through the Gq/phospholipase C pathway, leading to an increase in cytosolic calcium and activation of PKC. Here we review recent developments in the area of these cardiotrophic kinases, highlighting the utility of animal models that are helping to identify molecular targets in the human condition.
Gerald W. Dorn II, Thomas Force
In response to acute and chronic stresses, the heart frequently undergoes a remodeling process that is accompanied by myocyte hypertrophy, impaired contractility, and pump failure, often culminating in sudden death. The existence of redundant signaling pathways that trigger heart failure poses challenges for therapeutic intervention. Cardiac remodeling is associated with the activation of a pathological gene program that weakens cardiac performance. Thus, targeting the disease process at the level of gene expression represents a potentially powerful therapeutic approach. In this review, we describe strategies for normalizing gene expression in the failing heart with small molecules that control signal transduction pathways directed at transcription factors and associated chromatin-modifying enzymes.
Timothy A. McKinsey, Eric N. Olson
The mitochondrion serves a critical role as a platform for energy transduction, signaling, and cell death pathways relevant to common diseases of the myocardium such as heart failure. This review focuses on the molecular regulatory events and downstream effector pathways involved in mitochondrial energy metabolic derangements known to occur during the development of heart failure.
Janice M. Huss, Daniel P. Kelly
Structural and functional alterations in the Ca2+ regulatory proteins present in the sarcoplasmic reticulum have recently been shown to be strongly involved in the pathogenesis of heart failure. Chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system or of the renin-angiotensin system induces abnormalities in both the function and structure of these proteins. We review here the considerable body of evidence that has accumulated to support the notion that such abnormalities contribute to a defectiveness of contractile performance and hence to the progression of heart failure.
Masafumi Yano, Yasuhiro Ikeda, Masunori Matsuzaki
Recently, low — but abnormal — rates of cardiomyocyte apoptosis have been observed in failing human hearts. Genetic and pharmacological studies suggest that this cell death is causally linked to heart failure in rodent models. Herein, we review these data and discuss potential therapeutic implications.
Roger S.-Y. Foo, Kartik Mani, Richard N. Kitsis
In humans, the biological limitations to cardiac regenerative growth create both a clinical imperative — to offset cell death in acute ischemic injury and chronic heart failure — and a clinical opportunity; that is, for using cells, genes, and proteins to rescue cardiac muscle cell number or in other ways promote more efficacious cardiac repair. Recent experimental studies and early-phase clinical trials lend credence to the visionary goal of enhancing cardiac repair as an achievable therapeutic target.
Stefanie Dimmeler, Andreas M. Zeiher, Michael D. Schneider