In vivo ventricular gene delivery of a beta-adrenergic receptor kinase inhibitor to the failing heart reverses cardiac dysfunction.


BACKGROUND: Genetic manipulation to reverse molecular abnormalities associated with dysfunctional myocardium may provide novel treatment. This study aimed to determine the feasibility and functional consequences of in vivo beta-adrenergic receptor kinase (betaARK1) inhibition in a model of chronic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction after myocardial infarction (MI). METHODS AND RESULTS: Rabbits underwent ligation of the left circumflex (LCx) marginal artery and implantation of sonomicrometric crystals. Baseline cardiac physiology was studied 3 weeks after MI; 5x10(11) viral particles of adenovirus was percutaneously delivered through the LCx. Animals received transgenes encoding a peptide inhibitor of betaARK1 (Adeno-betaARKct) or an empty virus (EV) as control. One week after gene delivery, global LV and regional systolic function were measured again to assess gene treatment. Adeno-betaARKct delivery to the failing heart through the LCx resulted in chamber-specific expression of the betaARKct. Baseline in vivo LV systolic performance was improved in Adeno-betaARKct-treated animals compared with their individual pre-gene delivery values and compared with EV-treated rabbits. Total beta-AR density and betaARK1 levels were unchanged between treatment groups; however, beta-AR-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity in the LV was significantly higher in Adeno-betaARKct-treated rabbits compared with EV-treated animals. CONCLUSIONS: In vivo delivery of Adeno-betaARKct is feasible in the infarcted/failing heart by coronary catheterization; expression of betaARKct results in marked reversal of ventricular dysfunction. Thus, inhibition of betaARK1 provides a novel treatment strategy for improving the cardiac performance of the post-MI heart.







Donald D. Glower

Professor of Surgery

Current clinical research projects examine the effects of patient characteristics and surgical technique in outcome after minimally invasive cardiac surgery, valve repair and replacement, and coronary artery bypass grafting.
Prior work has examined the role of surgical therapy versus medical therapy in aortic dissection, load-independent means to quantify left and right ventricular function, and management of complex coronary disease.


Robert J. Lefkowitz

The Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Dr. Lefkowitz’s memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, recounts his early career as a cardiologist and his transition to biochemistry, which led to his Nobel Prize win.

Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D. is Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976. Dr. Lefkowitz began his research career in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when there was not a clear consensus that specific receptors for drugs and hormones even existed. His group spent 15 difficult years developing techniques for labeling the receptors with radioactive drugs and then purifying the four different receptors that were known and thought to exist for adrenaline, so called adrenergic receptors. In 1986 Dr. Lefkowitz transformed the understanding of what had by then become known as G protein coupled receptors because of the way the receptor signal for the inside of a cell through G proteins, when he and his colleagues cloned the gene for the beta2-adrenergic receptor. They immediately recognized the similarity to a molecule called rhodopsin which is essentially a light receptor in the retina. This unexpected finding established the beta receptor and rhodopsin as the first member of a new family of proteins. Because each has a peptide structure, which weaves across the cell membrane seven times, these receptors are referred to as seven transmembrane receptors. This super family is now known to be the largest, most diverse and most therapeutically accessible of all the different kinds of cellular receptors. There are almost a thousand members of this receptor family and they regulate virtually all known physiological processes in humans. They include the receptors not only to numerous hormones and neurotransmitters but for the receptors which mediate the senses of sweet and bitter taste and smell amongst many others. Dr. Lefkowitz also discovered the mechanism by which receptor signaling is turned off, a process known as desensitization. Dr. Lefkowitz work was performed at the most fundamental and basic end of the research spectrum and has had remarkable consequences for clinical medicine. Today, more than half of all prescription drug sales are of drugs that target either directly or indirectly the receptors discovered by Dr. Lefkowitz and his trainees. These include amongst many others beta blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs and antihistamines. Over the past decade he has discovered novel mechanisms by which the receptors function which may lead to the development of an entirely new class of drugs called “biased agonists”. Several such compounds are already in advanced stages of clinical testing. Dr. Lefkowitz has received numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Shaw Prize, the Albany Prize, and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected to the USA National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Institute of Medicine in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

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