Cardiac overstimulation by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is a salient characteristic of heart failure, reflected by elevated circulating levels of catecholamines. The success of β-adrenergic receptor (βAR) antagonists in heart failure argues for SNS hyperactivity being pathogenic; however, sympatholytic agents targeting α2AR-mediated catecholamine inhibition have been unsuccessful. By investigating adrenal adrenergic receptor signaling in heart failure models, we found molecular mechanisms to explain the failure of sympatholytic agents and discovered a new strategy to lower SNS activity. During heart failure, there is substantial α2AR dysregulation in the adrenal gland, triggered by increased expression and activity of G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2). Adrenal gland-specific GRK2 inhibition reversed α2AR dysregulation in heart failure, resulting in lowered plasma catecholamine levels, improved cardiac βAR signaling and function, and increased sympatholytic efficacy of a α2AR agonist. This is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of a molecular mechanism for SNS hyperactivity in heart failure, and our study identifies adrenal GRK2 activity as a new sympatholytic target.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)