Fibroblast growth factors (FGF) are mitogenic signal mediators that induce cell proliferation and survival. Although cardiac myocytes are post-mitotic, they have been shown to be able to respond to local and circulating FGFs. While precise molecular mechanisms are not well characterized, some FGF family members have been shown to induce cardiac remodeling under physiologic conditions by mediating hypertrophic growth in cardiac myocytes and by promoting angiogenesis, both events leading to increased cardiac function and output. This FGF-mediated physiologic scenario might transition into a pathologic situation involving cardiac cell death, fibrosis and inflammation, and eventually cardiac dysfunction and heart failure. As discussed here, cardiac actions of FGFs - with the majority of studies focusing on FGF2, FGF21 and FGF23 - and their specific FGF receptors (FGFR) and precise target cell types within the heart, are currently under experimental investigation. Especially cardiac effects of endocrine FGFs entered center stage over the past five years, as they might provide communication routes that couple metabolic mechanisms, such as bone-regulated phosphate homeostasis, or metabolic stress, such as hyperphosphatemia associated with kidney injury, with changes in cardiac structure and function. In this context, it has been shown that elevated serum FGF23 can directly tackle cardiac myocytes via FGFR4 thereby contributing to cardiac hypertrophy in models of chronic kidney disease, also called uremic cardiomyopathy. Precise characterization of FGFs and their origin and regulation of expression, and even more importantly, the identification of the FGFR isoforms that mediate their cardiac actions should help to develop novel pharmacological interventions for heart failure, such as FGFR4 inhibition to tackle uremic cardiomyopathy.
Keywords: Cardiac hypertrophy; Chronic kidney disease; Fibroblast growth factors; Receptor tyrosine kinases; Uremic cardiomyopathy.
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