Abstract 3426: Myostatin Deletion Preserves Cardiac Function in Senescent Mice
Myostatin (MSTN) is a well-known negative regulator of skeletal muscle mass, and MSTN inhibition is being considered as therapy for multiple conditions associated with muscle wasting, including sarcopenia of aging. We have previously shown that MSTN inhibits phenylephrine-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, however whether MSTN has a physiological role in regulating cardiac hypertrophy or function at baseline or with aging remains unclear. To determine if MSTN is dynamically regulated with aging, we performed QRT-PCR on hearts from male wild-type (WT) senescent mice (24 months old (mos)) and rats (32 mos). MSTN mRNA levels were increased in old versus young (4 mos) hearts (2.5- and 4-fold respectively, p<0.05). To study the functional significance of MSTN in aging, we maintained germline MSTN-knockout mice (MSTN−/−) and their WT littermates for 24 –27 months. We found no difference in heart weight of aged male MSTN−/− compared to WT mice (162.5±17.0 (n=4) vs 153.2±4.2 (n=4) mg, p=0.51), which would argue against an inhibitory role for MSTN in age-related increases in cardiac mass. We also performed echocardiography on unanesthetized senescent MSTN−/− and WT mice. MSTN−/− mice had better fractional shortening (58.1±2.0 (n=7) vs 49.4±1.2 (n=8) %, p=0.002) and smaller LV end-diastolic diameter (3.41±0.19 vs 2.71±0.14 mm, p=0.012) compared to WT. The decreased cardiac function seen in aged WT mice was associated with increased cardiac fibrosis on Masson-Trichrome stained sections. Western blot analysis also demonstrated a 3.3-fold increase in phospholamban phosphorylation in MSTN−/− hearts (p<0.05), compared to WT, while no differences in SERCA2a or calsequestrin protein levels were seen. We conclude that MSTN increases in the heart with aging, and that genetic deletion of MSTN results in improved cardiac function without a difference in heart mass in senescent mice. Decreased cardiac fibrosis and increased inhibition (phosphorylation) of phospholamban likely contribute to the better cardiac function seen in senescent MSTN−/−mice. These results suggest that inhibiting MSTN for sarcopenia in the elderly may also benefit cardiac function and could represent a novel therapeutic approach for ameliorating cardiac dysfunction and/or fibrosis.
This research has received full or partial funding support from the American Heart Association, AHA Founders Affiliate (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont).