AIMS: Limited data are available regarding cardiac expression of molecules involved in heart failure (HF) pathophysiology. The majority of the studies have focused on end-stage HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) without comparison with healthy subjects, while no data are available with regard to HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). HFpEF is a condition whose multiple pathophysiological mechanisms are still not fully defined, with many proposed hypotheses remaining speculative due to limited access to human heart tissue. This study aimed at evaluating cardiac expression levels of key genes of interest in human biopsy samples from patients affected with HFrEF and HFpEF in order to possibly point out distinct phenotypes.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Total RNA was extracted from left ventricular cardiac biopsies collected from stable patients with HFrEF (n = 6) and HFpEF (n = 7) and healthy subjects (n = 9) undergoing elective cardiac surgery for valvular replacement, mitral valvuloplasty, aortic surgery, or coronary artery bypass. Real-time PCR was performed to evaluate the mRNA expression levels of genes involved in somatotropic axis regulation [IGF-1, IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), and GH receptor (GHR)], in adrenergic signalling (GRK2, GRK5, ADRB1, and ADRB2), in myocardial calcium handling (SERCA2), and in TNF-α. Patients with HFrEF and HFpEF showed reduced serum IGF-1 circulating levels when compared with controls (102 ± 35.6, 138 ± 11.5, and 160 ± 13.2 ng/mL, P < 0.001, respectively). At myocardial level, HFrEF showed significant decreased GHR and increased IGF-1R expressions when compared with HFpEF and controls (0.54 ± 0.27, 0.94 ± 0.25, and 0.84 ± 0.2, P < 0.05 and 1.52 ± 0.9, 1.06 ± 0.21, and 0.72 ± 0.12, P < 0.05, respectively), while no differences in the local expression of IGF-1 mRNA were detected among the groups (0.80 ± 0.45, 0.97 ± 0.18, and 0.63 ± 0.23, P = 0.09, respectively). With regard to calcium handling and adrenergic signalling, HFrEF displayed significant decreased levels of SERCA2 (0.19 ± 0.39, 0.82 ± 0.15, and 0.87 ± 0.32, P < 0.01) and increased levels of GRK2 (3.45 ± 2.94, 0.93 ± 0.12, and 0.80 ± 0.14, P < 0.01) and GRK5 (1.32 ± 0.70, 0.71 ± 0.14, and 0.77 ± 0.15, P < 0.05), while no significant difference was found in ADRB1 (0.66 ± 0.4, 0.83 ± 0.3, and 0.86 ± 0.4) and ADRB2 mRNA expression (0.65 ± 0.3, 0.66 ± 0.2, and 0.68 ± 0.1) when compared with HFpEF and controls. Finally, no changes in the local expression of TNF-α were detected among groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction and HFpEF patients with stable clinical condition display a distinct molecular milieu of genes involved in somatotropic axis regulation, calcium handling, and adrenergic derangement at a myocardial level. The unique opportunity to compare these results with a control group, as reference population, may contribute to better understand HF pathophysiology and to identify novel potential therapeutic targets that could be modulated to improve ventricular function in patients with HF.
- Adrenergic Agents
- Heart Failure
- Stroke Volume