We previously showed that medium chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (MCAD, key regulator of fatty acid oxidation) is positively modulated in the heart by the cardioprotective kinase, phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K(p110α)). Disturbances in cardiac metabolism are a feature of heart failure (HF) patients and targeting metabolic defects is considered a potential therapeutic approach. The specific role of MCAD in the adult heart is unknown. To examine the role of MCAD in the heart and to assess the therapeutic potential of increasing MCAD in the failing heart, we developed a gene therapy tool using recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors (rAAV) encoding MCAD. We hypothesised that increasing MCAD expression may recapitulate the cardioprotective properties of PI3K(p110α). rAAV6:MCAD or rAAV6:control was delivered to healthy adult mice and to mice with pre-existing pathological hypertrophy and cardiac dysfunction due to transverse aortic constriction (TAC). In healthy mice, rAAV6:MCAD induced physiological hypertrophy (increase in heart size, normal systolic function and increased capillary density). In response to TAC (~15 weeks), heart weight/tibia length increased by ~60% in control mice and ~45% in rAAV6:MCAD mice compared with sham. This was associated with an increase in cardiomyocyte cross-sectional area in both TAC groups which was similar. However, hypertrophy in TAC rAAV6:MCAD mice was associated with less fibrosis, a trend for increased capillary density and a more favourable molecular profile compared with TAC rAAV6:control mice. In summary, MCAD induced physiological cardiac hypertrophy in healthy adult mice and attenuated features of pathological remodelling in a cardiac disease model.

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