Deoxycorticosterone/Salt-Mediated Cardiac Inflammation and Fibrosis Are Dependent on Functional CLOCK Signaling in Male Mice

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Abstract

Activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) promotes inflammation, fibrosis, and hypertension. Clinical and experimental studies show that MR antagonists have significant therapeutic benefit for all-cause heart failure; however, blockade of renal MRs limits their widespread use. Identification of key downstream signaling mechanisms for the MR in the cardiovascular system may enable development of targeted MR antagonists with selectivity for pathological MR signaling and lower impact on physiological renal electrolyte handling. One candidate pathway is the circadian clock, the dysregulation of which is associated with cardiovascular diseases. We have previously shown that the circadian gene Per2 is dysregulated in hearts with selective deletion of cardiomyocyte MR. We therefore investigated MR-mediated cardiac inflammation and fibrosis in mice that lack normal regulation and oscillation of the circadian clock in peripheral tissues, that is, CLOCKΔ19 mutant mice. The characteristic cardiac inflammatory/fibrotic response to a deoxycorticosterone (DOC)/salt for 8 weeks was significantly blunted in CLOCKΔ19 mice when compared with wild-type mice, despite a modest increase at “baseline” for fibrosis and macrophage number in CLOCKΔ19 mice. In contrast, cardiac hypertrophy in response to DOC/salt was significantly greater in CLOCKΔ19 vs wild-type mice. Markers for renal inflammation and fibrosis were similarly attenuated in the CLOCKΔ19 mice given DOC/salt. Moreover, increased CLOCK expression in H9c2 cardiac cells enhanced MR-mediated transactivation of Per1, suggesting cooperative signaling between these transcription factors. This study demonstrates that the full development of MR-mediated cardiac inflammation and fibrosis is dependent on intact signaling by the circadian protein CLOCK.

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