Alterations in cardiac gene expression during the transition from stable hypertrophy to heart failure. Marked upregulation of genes encoding extracellular matrix components

Circ Res. 1994 Jul;75(1):23-32. doi: 10.1161/01.res.75.1.23.


The failing heart is characterized by impaired cardiac muscle function and increased interstitial fibrosis. Our purpose was to determine whether the functional impairment of the failing heart is associated with changes in levels of mRNA encoding proteins that modulate parameters of contraction and relaxation and whether the increased fibrosis observed in the failing heart is related to elevated expression of genes encoding extracellular matrix components. We studied hearts of 18- to 24-month-old spontaneously hypertensive rats with signs and symptoms of heart failure (SHR-F) or without evidence of failure (SHR-NF) and of age-matched normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. Compared with WKY rats, SHR-NF exhibited left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy (2.2-fold) and right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy (1.5-fold), whereas SHR-F were characterized by comparable LV hypertrophy (2.1-fold) and augmented RV hypertrophy (2.4-fold; all P < .01). Total RNA was isolated from ventricles and subjected to Northern blot analysis. In SHR-F hearts, the level of alpha-myosin heavy chain mRNA was decreased in both ventricles to 1/3 and 1/5 of the SHR-NF and WKY values, respectively (both P < .01). Levels of beta-myosin heavy chain, alpha-cardiac actin, and myosin light chain-2 mRNAs were not significantly altered in hearts of SHR-NF or SHR-F. Levels of alpha-skeletal actin were twofold greater in SHR-NF hearts compared with WKY hearts and were intermediate in SHR-F hearts. Levels of atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) mRNA were elevated threefold in the LV of SHR-NF (P < .05) but were not significantly increased in the RV of SHR-NF compared with WKY rats. During the transition to failure (SHR-F versus SHR-NF), ANF mRNA levels increased an additional 1.6-fold in the LV and were elevated 4.7-fold in the RV (both P < .05). Levels of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase (SRCA) mRNA were maintained in the LV of hypertensive and failing hearts at levels not significantly different from WKY values. In contrast, the level of RV SRCA mRNA was 24% less in SHR-NF compared with WKY rats, and during the transition to failure, this difference was not significantly exacerbated (29% less than the WKY value). The levels of fibronectin and pro-alpha 1(I) and pro-alpha 1(III) collagen mRNAs were not significantly elevated in either ventricle of the SHR-NF group but were fourfold to fivefold higher in both ventricles of SHR-F (all P < .05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / genetics
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases / genetics
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases / metabolism
  • Cardiac Output, Low / genetics*
  • Cardiomegaly / genetics*
  • Contractile Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genes*
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred SHR
  • Rats, Inbred WKY
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / enzymology


  • Contractile Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases