Cardiomyocyte-specific deletion of β-catenin protects mouse hearts from ventricular arrhythmias after myocardial infarction

Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 6;11(1):17722. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97176-9.


Wnt/β-catenin signaling is activated in the heart after myocardial infarction (MI). This study aims to investigate if β-catenin deletion affects post-MI ion channel gene alterations and ventricular tachycardias (VT). MI was induced by permanent ligation of left anterior descending artery in wild-type (WT) and cardiomyocyte-specific β-catenin knockout (KO) mice. KO mice showed reduced susceptibility to VT (18% vs. 77% in WT) at 8 weeks after MI, associated with reduced scar size and attenuated chamber dilation. qPCR analyses of both myocardial tissues and purified cardiomyocytes demonstrated upregulation of Wnt pathway genes in border and infarct regions after MI, including Wnt ligands (such as Wnt4) and receptors (such as Fzd1 and Fzd2). At 1 week after MI, cardiac sodium channel gene (Scn5a) transcript was reduced in WT but not in KO hearts, consistent with previous studies showing Scn5a inhibition by Wnt/β-catenin signaling. At 8 weeks after MI when Wnt genes have declined, Scn5a returned to near sham levels and K+ channel gene downregulations were not different between WT and KO mice. This study demonstrated that VT susceptibility in the chronic phase after MI is reduced in mice with cardiomyocyte-specific β-catenin deletion primarily through attenuated structural remodeling, but not ion channel gene alterations.