A novel immunomodulator, FTY-720 reverses existing cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis from pressure overload by targeting NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T-cells) signaling and periostin.
Liu W., Zi M., Tsui H., Chowdhury SK., Zeef L., Meng Q-J., Travis M., Prehar S., Berry A., Hanley NA., Neyses L., Xiao R-P., Oceandy D., Ke Y., Solaro RJ., Cartwright EJ., Lei M., Wang X.
BACKGROUND: Hypertension or aortic stenosis causes pressure overload, which evokes hypertrophic myocardial growth. Sustained cardiac hypertrophy eventually progresses to heart failure. Growing evidence indicates that restraining hypertrophy could be beneficial; here, we discovered that FTY-720, an immunomodulator for treating multiple sclerosis, can reverse existing cardiac hypertrophy/fibrosis. METHODS AND RESULTS: Male C57/Bl6 mice underwent transverse aortic constriction (TAC) for 1 week followed by FTY-720 treatment for 2 weeks under continuing TAC. Compared with vehicle-treated TAC hearts, FTY-720 significantly reduced ventricular mass, ameliorated fibrosis, and improved cardiac performance. Mechanistic studies led us to discover that FTY-720 appreciably inhibited nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) activity. Moreover, we found that in primary cardiomyocytes (rat and human) pertussis toxin (Gi-coupled receptor inhibitor) substantially blocked the antihypertrophic effect of FTY-720. This observation was confirmed in a mouse model of pressure overload. Interestingly, gene array analysis of TAC hearts revealed that FTY-720 profoundly decreased gene expression of a group of matricellular proteins, of which periostin was prominent. Analysis of periostin protein expression in TAC-myocardium, as well as in rat and human cardiac fibroblasts, confirmed the array data. Moreover, we found that FTY-720 treatment or knockdown of periostin protein was able to inhibit transforming growth factor-β responsiveness and decrease collagen expression. CONCLUSIONS: FTY-720 alleviates existing cardiac hypertrophy/fibrosis through mechanisms involving negative regulation of NFAT activity in cardiomyocytes and reduction of periostin expression allowing for a more homeostatic extracellular compartment milieu. Together, FTY-720 or its analogues could be a promising new approach for treating hypertrophic/fibrotic heart disease.