Protein misfolding and cardiac disease: establishing cause and effect

Autophagy. 2008 Aug;4(6):821-3. doi: 10.4161/auto.6502. Epub 2008 Jun 26.


Numerous neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the accumulation of misfolded amyloidogenic proteins. Recent data indicate that a soluble pre-amyloid oligomer (PAO) may be the toxic entity in these diseases and the visible amyloid plaques, rather than causing the disease, may simply mark the terminal pathology. In prior studies, we observed PAO in the cardiomyocytes of many human heart failure samples. To test the hypothesis that cardiomyocyte-restricted expression of a known PAO is sufficient to cause heart failure, transgenic mice were created expressing polyglutamine repeats of 83 (PQ83) or 19 (PQ19). Long PQ repeats (>50) form PAOs and result in neurotoxicity in Huntington's disease, whereas shorter PQ repeats are benign. PQ83 expression caused the intracellular accumulation of PAOs and aggregates leading to cardiomyocyte death and heart failure. Evidence of increased autophagy and necrosis accompanied the PQ83 cardiomyocyte pathology. The data confirm that protein misfolding resulting in intracellular PAO accumulation is sufficient to cause cardiomyocyte death and heart failure.

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Amyloid / genetics
  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Heart Diseases / genetics
  • Heart Diseases / metabolism*
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Failure / genetics
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Heart Failure / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / pathology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid


  • Amyloid
  • Peptides
  • polyglutamine