Resolution of established cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis and prevention of systolic dysfunction in a transgenic rabbit model of human cardiomyopathy through thiol-sensitive mechanisms

Raffaella Lombardi, Gabriela Rodriguez, Suet Nee Chen, Crystal M Ripplinger, Wenwen Li, Junjie Chen, James T. Willerson, Sandro Betocchi, Samuel A. Wickline, Igor R. Efimov, Ali J. Marian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Scopus citations


Cardiac hypertrophy, the clinical hallmarκ of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), is a major determinant of morbidity and mortality not only in HCM but also in a number of cardiovascular diseases. There is no effective therapy for HCM and generally for cardiac hypertrophy. Myocardial oxidative stress and thiol-sensitive signaling molecules are implicated in pathogenesis of hypertrophy and fibrosis. We posit that treatment with N-acetylcysteine, a precursor of glutathione, the largest intracellular thiol pool against oxidative stress, could reverse cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis in HCM. We treated 2-year-old β-myosin heavy-chain Q403 transgenic rabbits with established cardiac hypertrophy and preserved systolic function with N-acetylcysteine or a placebo for 12 months (n=10 per group). Transgenic rabbits in the placebo group had cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, systolic dysfunction, increased oxidized to total glutathione ratio, higher levels of activated thiol-sensitive active protein κinase G, dephosphorylated nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFATc1) and phospho-p38, and reduced levels of glutathiolated cardiac α-actin. Treatment with N-acetylcysteine restored oxidized to total glutathione ratio, normalized levels of glutathiolated cardiac α-actin, reversed cardiac and myocyte hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis, reduced the propensity for ventricular arrhythmias, prevented cardiac dysfunction, restored myocardial levels of active protein κinase G, and dephosphorylated NFATc1 and phospho-p38. Treatment with N-acetylcysteine, a safe prodrug against oxidation, reversed established cardiac phenotype in a transgenic rabbit model of human HCM. Because there is no effective pharmacological therapy for HCM and given that hypertrophy, fibrosis, and cardiac dysfunction are common and major predictors of clinical outcomes, the findings could have implications in various cardiovascular disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1407
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 17 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Antioxidants
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Fibrosis
  • Genetics
  • Hypertrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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