Cell death in acromegalic cardiomyopathy

Andrea Frustaci, Cristina Chimenti, Manabu Setoguchi, Sabrina Guerra, Salvatore Corsello, Filippo Crea, Annarosa Leri, Jan Kajstura, Piero Anversa, Attilio Maseri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - Prolonged untreated acromegaly leads to a nonspecific myopathy characterized by ventricular dysfunction and failure. However, the mechanisms responsible for the alterations of cardiac pump function remain to be defined. Because cell death is implicated in most cardiac disease processes, the possibility has been raised that myocyte apoptosis may occur in the acromegalic heart, contributing to the deterioration of ventricular hemodynamics. Methods and Results - Ten acromegalic patients with diastolic dysfunction and 4 also with systolic dysfunction were subjected to electrocardiography, Holter monitoring, 2-dimensional echocardiography, cardiac catheterization, and biventricular and coronary angiography before surgical removal of a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. Endomyocardial biopsies were obtained and analyzed quantitatively in terms of tissue scarring and myocyte and nonmyocyte apoptosis. Myocardial samples from papillary muscles of patients who underwent valve replacement for mitral stenosis were used for comparison. The presence of apoptosis in myocytes and interstitial cells was determined by confocal microscopy with the use of 2 histochemical methods, consisting of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) assay and Taq probe in situ ligation. Acromegaly was characterized by a 495-fold and 305-fold increase in apoptosis of myocytes and nonmyocytes, respectively. The magnitude of myocyte apoptosis correlated with the extent of impairment in ejection fraction and the duration of the disease. A similar correlation was found with the magnitude of collagen accumulation, indicative of previous myocyte necrosis. Myocyte death was independent from the hormonal levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1. Apoptosis of interstitial cells did not correlate with ejection fraction. Conclusions - Myocyte cell death, apoptotic and necrotic in nature, may be critical for the development of ventricular dysfunction and its progression to cardiac failure with acromegaly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1426-1434
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 23 1999


  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cells
  • Heart failure growth substances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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