Verjans, R. ; Peters,T. ; Beaumont Ezcurra, Francisco Javier
; van Leeuwen, R. ; van Herwaarden, T. ; Verhesen, W. ; Munts, C. ; Bijnen, M.; Henkens, M. ; Díez Martínez, Domingo Francisco Javier
; de Windt, L. J. ; van Nieuwenhoven, F. A. ; van Bilsen, M.; Goumans, M. J. ; Heymans, S. ; González Miqueo, Aránzazu
; Schroen, B.
Pressure overload causes cardiac fibroblast activation and transdifferentiation, leading to increased interstitial fibrosis formation and subsequently myocardial stiffness, diastolic and systolic dysfunction, and eventually heart failure. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying pressure overload-induced cardiac remodeling and fibrosis will have implications for heart failure treatment strategies. The microRNA (miRNA)-221/222 family, consisting of miR-221-3p and miR-222-3p, is differentially regulated in mouse and human cardiac pathology and inversely associated with kidney and liver fibrosis. We investigated the role of this miRNA family during pressure overload-induced cardiac remodeling. In myocardial biopsies of patients with severe fibrosis and dilated cardiomyopathy or aortic stenosis, we found significantly lower miRNA-221/222 levels as compared to matched patients with nonsevere fibrosis. In addition, miRNA-221/222 levels in aortic stenosis patients correlated negatively with the extent of myocardial fibrosis and with left ventricular stiffness. Inhibition of both miRNAs during AngII (angiotensin II)-mediated pressure overload in mice led to increased fibrosis and aggravated left ventricular dilation and dysfunction. In rat cardiac fibroblasts, inhibition of miRNA-221/222 derepressed TGF-ß (transforming growth factor-ß)-mediated profibrotic SMAD2 (mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 2) signaling and downstream gene expression, whereas overexpression of both miRNAs blunted TGF-ß-induced profibrotic signaling. We found that the miRNA-221/222 family may target several genes involved in TGF-ß signaling, including JNK1 (c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1), TGF-ß receptor 1 and TGF-ß receptor 2, and ETS-1 (ETS proto-oncogene 1). Our findings show that heart failure-associated downregulation of the miRNA-221/222 family enables profibrotic signaling in the pressure-overloaded heart.