Smad3 Promotes Adverse Cardiovascular Remodeling and Dysfunction in Doxorubicin Treated Hearts

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American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology


Many anticancer therapies cause serious cardiovascular complications that degrade quality of life and cause early mortality in treated patients. Specifically, doxorubicin is known as an effective anticancer agent that causes cardiomyopathy in treated patients. There has been growing interest in defining the role of endothelial cells in cardiac damage by doxorubicin. We have shown in the present study that endothelial nuclei accumulate more intravenously administered doxorubicin than other cardiac cell types. Doxorubicin enhanced cardiac production of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) ligands and nuclear translocation of phospho-Smad3 in both cultured and in vivo cardiac endothelial cells. To examine the role of the TGF-β/mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 3 (Smad3) pathway in cardiac damage by doxorubicin, we used both Smad3 shRNA stable endothelial cell lines and Smad3-knockout mice. We demonstrated using endothelial transcriptome analysis that upregulation of the TGF-β and inflammatory cytokine/cytokine receptor pathways, as well as suppression of cell cycle and angiogenesis by doxorubicin, were alleviated in Smad3-deficient endothelial cells. The results of transcriptomic analysis were validated using qPCR, immunoblotting, and ex vivo aortic ring sprouting assays. Similarly, increased cardiac expression of cytokines and chemokines observed in treated wild-type mice was diminished in treated Smad3-knockout animals. We also detected increased end-diastolic diameter and depressed systolic function in doxorubicin-treated wild-type but not Smad3-knockout mice. This work provides evidence for the critical role of the canonical TGF-β/Smad3 pathway in cardiac damage by doxorubicin.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY Microvascular endothelial cells in the heart accumulate more intravenously administered doxorubicin than nonendothelial cardiac cell types. The treatment enhanced the TGF-β/Smad3 pathway and elicited endothelial cell senescence and inflammatory responses followed by adverse cardiac remodeling and dysfunction in wild-type but not Smad3-deficient animals. Our study suggests that the TGF-β/Smad3 pathway contributes to the development of doxorubicin cardiomyopathy and the potential value of novel approaches to ameliorate cardiotoxicity by targeting the Smad3 transcription factor.



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cardiac remodeling, cardiomyopathy, doxorubicin, endothelium, inflammation