Restoration of Circulating MFGE8 (Milk Fat Globule-EGF Factor 8) Attenuates Cardiac Hypertrophy Through Inhibition of Akt Pathway

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Abstract

Cardiac hypertrophy occurs in response to numerous stimuli like neurohumoral stress, pressure overload, infection, and injury, and leads to heart failure. Mfge8 (milk fat globule-EGF factor 8) is a secreted protein involved in various human diseases, but its regulation and function during cardiac hypertrophy remain unexplored. Here, we found that circulating MFGE8 levels declined significantly in failing hearts from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Correlation analyses revealed that circulating MFGE8 levels were negatively correlated with the severity of cardiac dysfunction and remodeling in affected patients. Deleting Mfge8 in mice maintained normal heart function at basal level but substantially exacerbated the hypertrophic enlargement of cardiomyocytes, reprogramming of pathological genes, contractile dysfunction, and myocardial fibrosis after aortic banding surgery. In contrast, cardiac-specific Mfge8 overexpression in transgenic mice significantly blunted aortic banding–induced cardiac hypertrophy. Whereas MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathways were unaffected in either Mfge8-knockout or Mfge8-overexpressing mice, the activated Akt/PKB (protein kinase B)–Gsk-3β (glycogen synthase kinase-3β)/mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway after aortic banding was significantly potentiated by Mfge8 deficiency but suppressed by Mfge8 overexpression. Inhibition of Akt with MK-2206 blocked the prohypertrophic effects of Mfge8 deficiency in angiotensin II–treated neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Finally, administering a recombinant human MFGE8 in mice in vivo alleviated cardiac hypertrophy induced by aortic banding. Our findings indicate that Mfge8 is an endogenous negative regulator of pathological cardiac hypertrophy and may, thus, have potential both as a novel biomarker and as a therapeutic target for treatment of cardiac hypertrophy.

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