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Strong evidence suggests that mitochondrial malfunction, which leads to disturbed energy metabolism and stimulated apoptosis, is a linchpin in the induction and manifestation of cardiac failure. An adequate exchange of ATP and ADP over the inner mitochondrial membrane by the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) is thereby essential to guarantee the cellular energy supply.
To explore the effect of an ameliorated mitochondrial ATP/ADP transportation on cardiac dysfunction, we generated transgenic rats overexpressing ANT1 in the heart (ANT rats) and crossed them with renin-overexpressing rats (REN rats) suffering from hypertension-induced cardiac insufficiency. Cardiac-specific ANT1 overexpression resulted in a higher ATP/ADP transportation and elevated activities of respiratory chain complexes. Increased ANT activity in double-transgenic (ANT/REN) animals did not influence excessive hypertension seen in REN rats. Hypertension-induced cardiac hypertrophy in the REN rats was prevented by parallel ANT1 overexpression, however, and left ventricular function remarkably improved. The ANT1 overexpression led to a reduction in fibrosis and an improvement in cardiac tissue architecture. Consequently, the survival rate of ANT/REN rats was enhanced. Further investigations into the cardioprotective mechanism of ANT1 overexpression revealed improved mitochondrial structure and function and significantly reduced apoptosis in ANT/REN rats, shown by lowered cytosolic/mitochondrial cytochrome c ratio, reduced caspase 3 level, and prevented DNA degradation.
Myocardial ANT1 overexpression protects against hypertension-induced cardiac pathology. Thus, the improvement in mitochondrial function may be a basic principle for new strategies in treating heart disease.