The epicardium is a potential source of cardiac progenitors to support reparative angiogenesis after myocardial infarction (MI) through epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Primary cilia are recognized as hubs of cellular signaling, and their presence can alter downstream pathways to modulate EMT. The present study aimed to examine the effects of inhibiting intraflagellar transport protein-88 (Ift88), a protein vital to ciliary assembly, on epicardial EMT and cardiac remodeling post-MI. Epicardium derived cells (EPDCs) were cultured from E13.5 heart explants and treated with adenoviral vector encoding short-hairpin RNA against the mouse Ift88 (Ad-shIft88) to disassemble the primary cilium. Effects of Ad-shIft88 on epicardial EMT and cardiac remodeling were examined in mice post-MI. Our results show that Ad-shIft88 enhanced EMT of cultured EPDCs. In adult mice, intra-myocardial administration of Ad-shIft88 increased the number of Wilms tumor 1 (Wt1) positive cells in the epicardium and myocardium, promoted expression of genes associated with epicardial EMT, and enhanced capillary and arteriolar densities post-MI. Additionally, intra-myocardial Ad-shIft88 treatment attenuated cardiac hypertrophy and improved myocardial function three weeks post-MI. In conclusion, knockdown of Ift88 improves epicardial EMT, neovascularization and cardiac remodeling in the ischemic heart. Our study highlights the primary cilium as a potential therapeutic target post-MI.
Keywords: Cardiac remodeling; Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; Myocardial infarction; Primary cilium.
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