Rationale: Lysosomal associated membrane protein type-2 (LAMP-2) is a highly conserved, ubiquitous protein that is critical for autophagic flux. Loss of function mutations in the LAMP-2 gene cause Danon disease, a rare X-linked disorder characterized by developmental delay, skeletal muscle weakness, and severe cardiomyopathy. We previously found that human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) from Danon patients exhibited significant mitochondrial oxidative stress and apoptosis. Understanding how loss of LAMP-2 expression leads to cardiomyocyte dysfunction and heart failure has important implications for the treatment of Danon disease as well as a variety of other cardiac disorders associated with impaired autophagy.
Objective: Elucidate the pathophysiology of cardiac dysfunction in Danon disease.
Methods and results: We created hiPSCs from two patients with Danon disease and differentiated those cells into hiPSC-CMs using well-established protocols. Danon hiPSC-CMs demonstrated an accumulation of damaged mitochondria, disrupted mitophagic flux, depressed mitochondrial respiratory capacity, and abnormal gene expression of key mitochondrial pathways. Restoring the expression of LAMP-2B, the most abundant LAMP-2 isoform in the heart, rescued mitophagic flux as well as mitochondrial health and bioenergetics. To confirm our findings in vivo, we evaluated Lamp-2 knockout (KO) mice. Impaired autophagic flux was noted in the Lamp-2 KO mice compared to WT reporter mice, as well as an increased number of abnormal mitochondria, evidence of incomplete mitophagy, and impaired mitochondrial respiration. Physiologically, Lamp-2 KO mice demonstrated early features of contractile dysfunction without overt heart failure, indicating that the metabolic abnormalities associated with Danon disease precede the development of end-stage disease and are not merely part of the secondary changes associated with heart failure.
Conclusions: Incomplete mitophagic flux and mitochondrial dysfunction are noted in both in vitro and in vivo models of Danon disease, and proceed overt cardiac contractile dysfunction. This suggests that impaired mitochondrial clearance may be central to the pathogenesis of disease and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Keywords: Autophagy; Cardiomyocyte; Heart failure; Mitochondria; hiPSC.
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