Aims: Pathological cardiac hypertrophy is a major predictor for the development of cardiac diseases. It is associated with chronic neurohumoral stimulation and with altered cardiac Ca(2+) signalling in cardiomyocytes. TRPC proteins form agonist-induced cation channels, but their functional role for Ca(2+) homeostasis in cardiomyocytes during fast cytosolic Ca(2+) cycling and neurohumoral stimulation leading to hypertrophy is unknown.
Methods and results: In a systematic analysis of multiple knockout mice using fluorescence imaging of electrically paced adult ventricular cardiomyocytes and Mn(2+)-quench microfluorimetry, we identified a background Ca(2+) entry (BGCE) pathway that critically depends on TRPC1/C4 proteins but not others such as TRPC3/C6. Reduction of BGCE in TRPC1/C4-deficient cardiomyocytes lowers diastolic and systolic Ca(2+) concentrations both, under basal conditions and under neurohumoral stimulation without affecting cardiac contractility measured in isolated hearts and in vivo. Neurohumoral-induced cardiac hypertrophy as well as the expression of foetal genes (ANP, BNP) and genes regulated by Ca(2+)-dependent signalling (RCAN1-4, myomaxin) was reduced in TRPC1/C4 knockout (DKO), but not in TRPC1- or TRPC4-single knockout mice. Pressure overload-induced hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis were both ameliorated in TRPC1/C4-DKO mice, whereas they did not show alterations in other cardiovascular parameters contributing to systemic neurohumoral-induced hypertrophy such as renin secretion and blood pressure.
Conclusions: The constitutively active TRPC1/C4-dependent BGCE fine-tunes Ca(2+) cycling in beating adult cardiomyocytes. TRPC1/C4-gene inactivation protects against development of maladaptive cardiac remodelling without altering cardiac or extracardiac functions contributing to this pathogenesis.
Keywords: Background Ca2+ entry; Calcium; Cardiac remodelling; Ion channels; TRPC1/TRPC4.
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