Experimentally Increasing Titin's Compliance Through RBM20 Inhibition Improves Diastolic Function in a Mouse Model of HFpEF
Background—Left Ventricular (LV) stiffening contributes to Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF), a syndrome with no effective treatment options. Increasing titin's compliance in the heart has become possible recently through inhibition of the splicing factor RBM20. Here we investigated the effects of increasing titin's compliance in mice with diastolic dysfunction.
Methods—Mice in which the RNA recognition motif (RRM) of one of the RBM20 alleles was floxed and which expressed the MerCreMer transgene under control of the αMHC promoter (referred to as cRbm20∆RRM mice) were used. Mice underwent transverse aortic constriction (TAC) surgery and deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA) pellet implantation (TAC/DOCA). RRM deletion in adult mice was triggered by injecting raloxifene (cRbm20∆RRM-raloxifene) with DMSO injected mice (cRbm20∆RRM-DMSO) as the control. Diastolic function was investigated using echocardiography and pressure volume analysis; passive stiffness was studied in LV muscle strips and isolated cardiac myocytes before and after elimination of titin-based stiffness. Treadmill exercise performance was also studied. Titin isoform expression was evaluated with Agarose gels.
Results—cRbm20∆RRM-raloxifene mice expressed large titins in the hearts, named super compliant titin (N2BAsc), which, within 3 weeks after raloxifene injection, made up ~45% of total titin. TAC/DOCA cRbm20∆RRM-DMSO mice developed LV hypertrophy and a marked increase in LV chamber stiffness as shown by both pressure-volume analysis and echocardiography. LV chamber stiffness was normalized in TAC/DOCA cRbm20∆RRM-raloxifene mice that expressed N2BAsc. Passive stiffness measurements on muscle strips isolated from the LV free wall revealed that extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness was equally increased in both groups of TAC/DOCA mice (cRbm20∆RRM-DMSO and cRbm20∆RRM-raloxifene). However, titin-based muscle stiffness was reduced in the mice that expressed N2BAsc (TAC/DOCA cRbm20∆RRM-raloxifene). Exercise testing demonstrated significant improvement in exercise tolerance in TAC/DOCA mice that expressed N2BAsc.
Conclusions—Inhibition of the RBM20-based titin splicing system upregulates compliant titins, which improves diastolic function and exercise tolerance in the TAC/DOCA model. Titin holds promise as a therapeutic target for HFpEF.
- Received April 15, 2016.
- Revision received July 26, 2016.
- Accepted August 5, 2016.