The role of sirtuins in mitochondrial function and doxorubicin-induced cardiac dysfunction

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Anthracycline chemotherapeutics such as doxorubicin continue to be important treatments for many cancers. Through improved screening and therapy, more patients are surviving and living longer after the diagnosis of their cancer. However, anthracyclines are associated with both short- and long-term cardiotoxic effects. Doxorubicin-induced mitochondrial dysfunction is a central mechanism in the cardiotoxic effects of doxorubicin that contributes to impaired cardiac energy levels, increased reactive oxygen species production, cardiomyocyte apoptosis and the decline in cardiac function. Sirtuins are protein deacetylases that are activated by low energy levels and stimulate energy production through their activation of transcription factors and enzymatic regulators of cardiac energy metabolism. In addition, sirtuins activate oxidative stress resistance pathways. SIRT1 and SIRT3 are expressed at high levels in the cardiomyocyte. This review examines the function of sirtuins in the regulation of cardiac mitochondrial function, with a focus on their role in heart failure and an emphasis on their effects on doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. We discuss the potential for sirtuin activation in combination with anthracycline chemotherapy in order to mitigate its cardiotoxic side-effects without reducing the antineoplastic activity of anthracyclines.

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