The right ventricular fibroblast secretome drives cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation

PLoS One. 2019 Aug 2;14(8):e0220573. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220573. eCollection 2019.


Rationale: In virtually all models of heart failure, prognosis is determined by right ventricular (RV) function; thus, understanding the cellular mechanisms contributing to RV dysfunction is critical. Whole organ remodeling is associated with cell-specific changes, including cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation and activation of cardiac fibroblasts (Cfib) which in turn is linked to disorganization of cytoskeletal proteins and loss of sarcomeric structures. However, how these cellular changes contribute to RV function remains unknown. We've previously shown significant organ-level RV dysfunction in a large animal model of pulmonary hypertension (PH) which was not mirrored by reduced function of isolated cardiomyocytes. We hypothesized that factors produced by the endogenous Cfib contribute to global RV dysfunction by generating a heterogeneous cellular environment populated by dedifferentiated cells.

Objective: To determine the effect of Cfib conditioned media (CM) from the PH calf (PH-CM) on adult rat ventricular myocytes (ARVM) in culture.

Methods and results: Brief exposure (<2 days) to PH-CM results in rapid, marked dedifferentiation of ARVM to a neonatal-like phenotype exhibiting spontaneous contractile behavior. Dedifferentiated cells maintain viability for over 30 days with continued expression of cardiomyocyte proteins including TnI and α-actinin yet exhibit myofibroblast characteristics including expression of α-smooth muscle actin. Using a bioinformatics approach to identify factor(s) that contribute to dedifferentiation, we found activation of the PH Cfib results in a unique transcriptome correlating with factors both in the secretome and with activated pathways in the dedifferentiated myocyte. Further, we identified upregulation of periostin in the Cfib and CM, and demonstrate that periostin is sufficient to drive cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation.

Conclusions: These data suggest that paracrine factor(s) released by Cfib from the PH calf signal a phenotypic transformation in a population of cardiomyocytes that likely contributes to RV dysfunction. Therapies targeting this process, such as inhibition of periostin, have the potential to prevent RV dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Dedifferentiation / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Heart Ventricles / cytology
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / metabolism*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology
  • Ventricular Remodeling