CRAT links cholesterol metabolism to innate immune responses in the heart

Nat Metab. 2023 Aug;5(8):1382-1394. doi: 10.1038/s42255-023-00844-5. Epub 2023 Jul 13.


Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk and poor prognosis of heart failure; however, the precise mechanism that provokes sustained inflammation in the failing heart remains elusive. Here we report that depletion of carnitine acetyltransferase (CRAT) promotes cholesterol catabolism through bile acid synthesis pathway in cardiomyocytes. Intracellular accumulation of bile acid or intermediate, 7α-hydroxyl-3-oxo-4-cholestenoic acid, induces mitochondrial DNA stress and triggers cGAS-STING-dependent type I interferon responses. Furthermore, type I interferon responses elicited by CRAT deficiency substantially increase AIM2 expression and AIM2-dependent inflammasome activation. Genetic deletion of cardiomyocyte CRAT in mice of both sexes results in myocardial inflammation and dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be reversed by combined depletion of caspase-1, cGAS or AIM2. Collectively, we identify a mechanism by which cardiac energy metabolism, cholesterol homeostasis and cardiomyocyte-intrinsic innate immune responses are interconnected via a CRAT-mediated bile acid synthesis pathway, which contributes to chronic myocardial inflammation and heart failure progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carnitine O-Acetyltransferase* / genetics
  • Carnitine O-Acetyltransferase* / metabolism
  • Cholesterol
  • Female
  • Heart Failure*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon Type I
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism


  • Carnitine O-Acetyltransferase
  • Cholesterol
  • Interferon Type I
  • Nucleotidyltransferases