Objectives: We evaluated the therapeutic potential of a recombinant 61-residue neuregulin-1 (beta2a isoform) receptor-active peptide (rhNRG-1) in multiple animal models of heart disease.
Background: Activation of the erbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases by rhNRG-1 could provide a treatment option for heart failure, because neuregulin-stimulated erbB2/erbB4 heterodimerization is not only critical for myocardium formation in early heart development but prevents severe dysfunction of the adult heart and premature death. Disabled erbB-signaling is also implicated in the transition from compensatory hypertrophy to failure, whereas erbB receptor-activation promotes myocardial cell growth and survival and protects against anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy.
Methods: rhNRG-1 was administered IV to animal models of ischemic, dilated, and viral cardiomyopathy, and cardiac function and survival were evaluated.
Results: Short-term intravenous administration of rhNRG-1 to normal dogs and rats did not alter hemodynamics or cardiac contractility. In contrast, rhNRG-1 improved cardiac performance, attenuated pathological changes, and prolonged survival in rodent models of ischemic, dilated, and viral cardiomyopathy, with the survival benefits in the ischemic model being additive to those of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy. In addition, despite continued pacing, rhNRG-1 produced global improvements in cardiac function in a canine model of pacing-induced heart failure.
Conclusions: These beneficial effects make rhNRG-1 promising as a broad-spectrum therapeutic for the treatment of heart failure due to a variety of common cardiac diseases.