Cardiomyocyte-specific ablation of CD36 improves post-ischemic functional recovery. Nagendran J, Pulinilkunnil T, Kienesberger PC, Sung MM, Fung D, Febbraio M, Dyck JR. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2013 Oct;63:180-8.


Although pre-clinical evidence has suggested that partial inhibition of myocardial fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and subsequent switch to greater glucose oxidation for ATP production can prevent ischemia/reperfusion injury, controversy about this approach persists. For example, mice with germline deletion of the FA transporter CD36, exhibited either impaired or unchanged post-ischemic functional recovery despite a 40–60{8617e24ab0b76aabcd10cf8004a7bdc562123dc1ea8adc37299158a7c05423e6} reduction in FAO rates. Because there are limitations to cardiac studies utilizing whole body CD36 knockout (totalCD36KO) mice, we have now generated an inducible and cardiomyocyte-specific CD36 KO (icCD36KO) mouse to better address the role of cardiomyocyte CD36 and its regulation of FAO and post-ischemic functional recovery. Four to six weeks following CD36 ablation, hearts from icCD36KO mice had significantly decreased FA uptake compared to controls, which was paralleled by significant reductions in intramyocardial triacylglycerol content. Analysis of cardiac energy metabolism using ex vivo working heart perfusions showed that reduced FAO rates were compensated by enhanced glucose oxidation in the hearts from icCD36KO mice. In contrast to the totalCD36KO mice, hearts from icCD36KO mice exhibited significantly improved functional recovery following ischemia/reperfusion (18 min of global no-flow ischemia followed by 40 min of aerobic reperfusion). This improved recovery was associated with lower calculated proton production prior to and following ischemia compared to controls. Moreover, the amount of ATP generated relative to cardiac work was significantly lower in the hearts from icCD36KO mice compared to controls, indicating significantly increased cardiac efficiency in the hearts from icCD36KO mice. These data provide genetic evidence that reduced FAO as a result of diminished CD36-mediated FA uptake improves post-ischemic cardiac efficiency and functional recovery. As such, targeting cardiomyocyte FA uptake and FAO via inhibition of CD36 in the adult myocardium may provide therapeutic benefit during ischemia–reperfusion.

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Cardiac-specific adipose triglyceride lipase overexpression protects from cardiac steatosis and dilated cardiomyopathy following diet-induced obesity. Pulinilkunnil T, Kienesberger PC, Nagendran J, Sharma N, Young ME, Dyck JR. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Feb;38(2):205-15.


Although obesity increases the risk of developing cardiomyopathy, the mechanisms underlying the development of this cardiomyopathy are incompletely understood. As obesity is also associated with increased intramyocardial triacylglycerol (TAG) deposition, also referred to as cardiac steatosis, we hypothesized that alterations in myocardial TAG metabolism and excess TAG accumulation contribute to obesity-induced cardiomyopathy.


To test if increased TAG catabolism could ameliorate obesity-induced cardiac steatosis and dysfunction, we utilized wild-type (WT) mice and mice with cardiomyocyte-specific overexpression of adipose triglyceride lipase (MHC-ATGL mice), which regulates cardiac TAG hydrolysis. WT and MHC-ATGL mice were fed either regular chow (13.5 kcal% fat) or high fat-high sucrose (HFHS; 45 kcal% fat and 17 kcal% sucrose) diet for 16 weeks to induce obesity and mice were subsequently studied at the physiological, biochemical and molecular level.


Obese MHC-ATGL mice were protected from increased intramyocardial TAG accumulation, despite similar increases in body weight and systemic insulin resistance as obese WT mice. Importantly, analysis of in vivo cardiac function using transthoracic echocardiography showed that ATGL overexpression protected from obesity-induced systolic and diastolic dysfunction and ventricular dilatation. Ex vivo working heart perfusions revealed impaired cardiac glucose oxidation following obesity in both WT and MHC-ATGL mice, which was consistent with similar impaired cardiac insulin signaling between genotypes. However, hearts from obese MHC-ATGL mice exhibited reduced reliance on palmitate oxidation when compared with the obese WT, which was accompanied by decreased expression of proteins involved in fatty acid uptake, storage and oxidation in MHC-ATGL hearts.


These findings suggest that cardiomyocyte-specific ATGL overexpression was sufficient to prevent cardiac steatosis and decrease fatty acid utilization following HFHS diet feeding, leading to protection against obesity-induced cardiac dysfunction.

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Skeletal muscle triacylglycerol hydrolysis does not influence metabolic complications of obesity. Sitnick MT, Basantani MK, Cai L, Schoiswohl G, Yazbeck CF, Distefano G, Ritov V, DeLany JP, Schreiber R, Stolz DB, Gardner NP, Kienesberger PC, Pulinilkunnil T, Zechner R, Goodpaster BH, Coen P, Kershaw EE. Diabetes. 2013 Oct;62(10):3350-61.

Intramyocellular triacylglycerol (IMTG) accumulation is highly associated with insulin resistance and metabolic complications of obesity (lipotoxicity), whereas comparable IMTG accumulation in endurance-trained athletes is associated with insulin sensitivity (the athlete’s paradox). Despite these findings, it remains unclear whether changes in IMTG accumulation and metabolism per se influence muscle-specific and systemic metabolic homeostasis and insulin responsiveness. By mediating the rate-limiting step in triacylglycerol hydrolysis, adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) has been proposed to influence the storage/production of deleterious as well as essential lipid metabolites. However, the physiological relevance of ATGL-mediated triacylglycerol hydrolysis in skeletal muscle remains unknown. To determine the contribution of IMTG hydrolysis to tissue-specific and systemic metabolic phenotypes in the context of obesity, we generated mice with targeted deletion or transgenic overexpression of ATGL exclusively in skeletal muscle. Despite dramatic changes in IMTG content on both chow and high-fat diets, modulation of ATGL-mediated IMTG hydrolysis did not significantly influence systemic energy, lipid, or glucose homeostasis, nor did it influence insulin responsiveness or mitochondrial function. These data argue against a role for altered IMTG accumulation and lipolysis in muscle insulin resistance and metabolic complications of obesity.

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Hypoxic regulation of hand1 controls the fetal-neonatal switch in cardiac metabolism. Breckenridge RA, Piotrowska I, Ng KE, Ragan TJ, West JA, Kotecha S, Towers N, Bennett M, Kienesberger PC, Smolenski RT, Siddall HK, Offer JL, Mocanu MM, Yelon DM, Dyck JR, Griffin JL, Abramov AY, Gould AP, Mohun TJ. PLoS Biol. 2013 Sep;11(9):e1001666.

Cardiomyocytes are vulnerable to hypoxia in the adult, but adapted to hypoxia in utero. Current understanding of endogenous cardiac oxygen sensing pathways is limited. Myocardial oxygen consumption is determined by regulation of energy metabolism, which shifts from glycolysis to lipid oxidation soon after birth, and is reversed in failing adult hearts, accompanying re-expression of several “fetal” genes whose role in disease phenotypes remains unknown. Here we show that hypoxia-controlled expression of the transcription factor Hand1 determines oxygen consumption by inhibition of lipid metabolism in the fetal and adult cardiomyocyte, leading to downregulation of mitochondrial energy generation. Hand1 is under direct transcriptional control by HIF1α. Transgenic mice prolonging cardiac Hand1 expression die immediately following birth, failing to activate the neonatal lipid metabolising gene expression programme. Deletion of Hand1 in embryonic cardiomyocytes results in premature expression of these genes. Using metabolic flux analysis, we show that Hand1 expression controlscardiomyocyte oxygen consumption by direct transcriptional repression of lipid metabolising genes. This leads, in turn, to increased production of lactate from glucose, decreased lipid oxidation, reduced inner mitochondrial membrane potential, and mitochondrial ATP generation. We found that this pathway is active in adult cardiomyocytes. Up-regulation of Hand1 is protective in a mouse model of myocardial ischaemia. We propose that Hand1 is part of a novel regulatory pathway linking cardiac oxygen levels with oxygen consumption. Understanding hypoxia adaptation in the fetal heart may allow development of strategies to protect cardiomyocytes vulnerable to ischaemia, for example during cardiac ischaemia or surgery.

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