A crucial role of activin A-mediated growth hormone suppression in mouse and human heart failure

PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e27901. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027901. Epub 2011 Dec 28.


Infusion of bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BMMNC) has been reported to ameliorate cardiac dysfunction after acute myocardial infarction. In this study, we investigated whether infusion of BMMNC is also effective for non-ischemic heart failure model mice and the underlying mechanisms. Intravenous infusion of BMMNC showed transient cardioprotective effects on animal models with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) without their engraftment in heart, suggesting that BMMNC infusion improves cardiac function via humoral factors rather than their differentiation into cardiomyocytes. Using conditioned media from sorted BMMNC, we found that the cardioprotective effects were mediated by growth hormone (GH) secreted from myeloid (Gr-1(+)) cells and the effects was partially mediated by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 in cardiomyocytes. On the other hand, the GH expression in Gr-1(+) cells was significantly downregulated in DCM mice compared with that in healthy control, suggesting that the environmental cue in heart failure might suppress the Gr-1(+) cells function. Activin A was upregulated in the serum of DCM models and induced downregulation of GH levels in Gr-1(+) cells and serum. Furthermore, humoral factors upregulated in heart failure including angiotensin II upregulated activin A in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) via activation of NFκB. Similarly, serum activin A levels were also significantly higher in DCM patients with heart failure than in healthy subjects and the GH levels in conditioned medium from PBMNC of DCM patients were lower than that in healthy subjects. Inhibition of activin A increased serum GH levels and improved cardiac function of DCM model mice. These results suggest that activin A causes heart failure by suppressing GH activity and that inhibition of activin A might become a novel strategy for the treatment of heart failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Growth Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • activin A
  • Activins
  • Growth Hormone