Constitutive protein kinase G activation exacerbates stress-induced cardiomyopathy

Schwaerzer, Gerburg K., et al. “Constitutive protein kinase G activation exacerbates stress‐induced cardiomyopathy.” British Journal of Pharmacology 179.11 (2022): 2413-2429.


Background and Purpose

Heart failure is associated with high morbidity and mortality, and new therapeutic targets are needed. Preclinical data suggest that pharmacological activation of protein kinase G (PKG) can reduce maladaptive ventricular remodelling and cardiac dysfunction in the stressed heart. However, clinical trial results have been mixed and the effects of long-term PKG activation in the heart are unknown.

Experimental Approach

We characterized the cardiac phenotype of mice carrying a heterozygous knock-in mutation of PKG1 (Prkg1R177Q/+), which causes constitutive, cGMP-independent activation of the kinase. We examined isolated cardiac myocytes and intact mice, the latter after stress induced by surgical transaortic constriction or angiotensin II (Ang II) infusion.

Key Results

Cardiac myocytes from Prkg1R177Q/+ mice showed altered phosphorylation of sarcomeric proteins and reduced contractility in response to electrical stimulation, compared to cells from wild type mice. Under basal conditions, young PKG1R177Q/+ mice exhibited no obvious cardiac abnormalities, but aging animals developed mild increases in cardiac fibrosis. In response to angiotensin II infusion or fixed pressure overload induced by transaortic constriction, young PKGR177Q/+ mice exhibited excessive hypertrophic remodelling with increased fibrosis and myocyte apoptosis, leading to increased left ventricular dilation and dysfunction compared to wild type litter mates.

Conclusion and Implications

Long-term PKG1 activation in mice may be harmful to the heart, especially in the presence of pressure overload and neurohumoral stress.