Heart transplantation is often an unrealizable therapeutic option for end-stage heart failure, which is why mechanical left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) become an increasingly important therapeutic alternative. Currently, there is a lack of information about molecular mechanisms which are influenced by LVADs, particularly regarding the pathophysiologically critical renin angiotensin system (RAS). We, therefore, determined regulation patterns of key components of the RAS and the β-arrestin signaling pathways in left ventricular (LV) tissue specimens from 8 patients with end-stage ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM) and 12 patients with terminal dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) before and after LVAD implantation and compared them with non-failing (NF) left ventricular tissue samples: AT1R, AT2R, ACE, ACE2, MasR, and ADAM17 were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction. ERK, phosphorylated ERK, p38, phosphorylated p38, JNK, phosphorylated JNK, GRK2, β-arrestin 2, PI3K, Akt, and phosphorylated Akt were determined by Western blot analysis. Angiotensin I and Angiotensin II were quantified by mass spectrometry. Patients were predominantly middle-aged (53 ± 10 years) men with severely impaired LV function (LVEF 19 ± 8%), when receiving LVAD therapy for a mean duration of 331 ± 317 days. Baseline characteristics did not differ significantly between ICM and DCM patients. By comparing failing with non-failing left ventricles, i.e., before LVAD implantation, a downregulation of AT1R, AT2R, and MasR and an upregulation of ACE, ACE2, GRK, β-arrestin, ERK, PI3K, and Akt were seen. Following LVAD support, then angiotensin I, ACE2, GRK, and β-arrestin were downregulated and AT2R, JNK, and p38 were upregulated. ACE, angiotensin II, AT1R, ADAM17, MasR, ERK, PI3K, and Akt remained unchanged. Some regulation patterns were influenced by the underlying etiology of heart failure, the severity of LV dysfunction at baseline, and the duration of LVAD therapy. Key components of the RAS and β-arrestin signaling pathways were divergently altered in failing left ventricles both before and after LVAD implantation, whereas a remarkable fraction remained unchanged. This indicates a rather incomplete molecular reverse remodeling, whose functional relevance has to be further evaluated.
Keywords: Heart failure; LVAD; Renin angiotensin system.