Pathological cardiac hypertrophy (PCH) can be triggered by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transactivation. Progression of PCH can be prevented by inhibition of hyperactive Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1 (NHE1). We first aimed, to limit PCH of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) by specific and localized silencing of cardiac EGFR, and second to study the connection of its activation pathway with cardiac NHE1 activity. Short hairpin RNA (shRNA) against EGFR was delivered with a lentivirus (l-shEGFR) in the cardiac left ventricle (LV) wall. Protein expression was analyzed by immunoblots, and NHE1 activity was indirectly measured in isolated papillary muscles by rate of pHi recovery from transient acidification. EGFR protein expression in the LV was reduced compared to the group injected with l-shSCR (Scrambled sequence) without changes in ErbB2 or ErbB4. Hypertrophic parameters together with cardiomyocytes cross sectional area were reduced in animals injected with l-shEGFR. Echocardiographic analysis exhibited a reduced fractional shortening in the l-shSCR group 30 days following treatment that was not observed in l-shEGFR group. l-shEGFR treated rats presented a reduced basal production of reactive oxygen species and decreased lipid peroxidation. NHE1 activity was significantly diminished in hearts with a partial EGFR silencing, without modification of its protein expression. We conclude that specifically silencing cardiac EGFR expression prevents progression of PCH through a pathway that involves a decrease in the NHE1 activity. Lentiviral vectors prove to be a valuable tool for long term expression of shRNA, bringing the possibility to extend its use in clinical area.
Keywords: EGFR; Heart; Hypertrophy; Lentivirus; NHE1.
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