Background: Diabetes promotes progressive loss of cardiac cells, which are replaced by a fibrotic matrix, resulting in the loss of cardiac function. In the current study we sought to identify if excessive autophagy plays a major role in inducing this progressive loss. Methods and results: Immunofluorescence and western blotting analysis of the right atrial appendages collected from diabetic and non-diabetic patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery showed a marked increase in the level of autophagy in the diabetic heart, as evidenced by increased expression of autophagy marker LC3B-II and its mediator Beclin-1 and decreased expression of p62, which incorporates into autophagosomes to be efficiently degraded. Moreover, a marked activation of pro-apoptotic caspase-3 was observed. Electron microscopy showed increased autophagosomes in the diabetic heart. In vivo measurement of autophagic flux by choloroquine injection resulted in further enhancement of LC3B-II in the diabetic myocardium, confirming increased autophagic activity in the type-2 diabetic heart. Importantly, in-vitro genetic depletion of beclin-1 in high glucose treated adult rat cardiomyocytes markedly inhibited the level of autophagy and subsequent apoptotic cell death. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the pathological role of autophagy in the type-2 diabetic heart, opening up a potentially novel therapeutic avenue for the treatment of diabetic heart disease.
- Heart disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine