In 2030, elderly people will represent 20% of the United States population. Even now, chronic cardiac diseases, especially heart failure with preserved systolic function (HFpEF), are the most expensive DRGs for Medicare. Progressive interstitial fibrosis in the aging heart is well recognized as an important component of HFpEF. Our recent studies suggested an important pathophysiologic role for reduced TGF-β receptor 1 (TGFβR1) signaling in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and their mesenchymal fibroblast progeny in the development of interstitial fibrosis. This report arises from our previous studies, which suggest that an inflammatory phenotype exists in these mesenchymal fibroblasts as a result of a reduced TGF-β-Smad-dependent pathway but upregulated farnesyltransferase (FTase)-Ras-Erk signaling. In this report we provide evidence for a therapeutic approach that downregulates Erk activation through an adenosine monophosphate-activated kinase (AMPK) pathway. Aging C57BL/6J mice were treated with AICAR (an AMPK activator) for a 30-day period. This treatment suppressed excessive monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) generation, which diminished leukocyte infiltration and in consequence suppressed the formation of macrophage-derived myeloid fibroblasts. Interestingly, the number of mesenchymal fibroblasts was also reduced. In addition, we observed changes in extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, specifically that collagen type I and the alternatively spliced variant of fibronectin (EDA) expressions were reduced. These data suggest that the upregulation of AMPK activity is a potential therapeutic approach to fibrosis in the aging heart.
Keywords: AMPK; Fibroblast; Fibrosis; Heart; Macrophage.
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