Cardiac Protective Effect of Aldosterone Blockade Is Mediated Through Ap-1 and Nf-κB Suppression in Angiotensin Ii-Induced Cardiac Damage
Aldosterone is a multifunctional mineralocorticoid affecting homeostasis of water and electrolytes, sympathetic activity, and tissue fibrosis. Aldosterone synthesis is induced by activation of the renin-angiotensin system. We tested whether or not the inhibition of aldosterone signaling can prevent fibrotic tissue remodeling in vivo. In a transgenic rat model overexpressing the human renin and angiotensinogen gens (dTGR), we investigated the effect of spironolactone (SPIRO 20 mg/kg/d) and the AT1 receptor blocker valsartan (VAL; 10 mg/kg/d) on growth factors and transcription factors leading chronic inflammation and tissue fibrosis. Untreated dTGR develop severe hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy, vasculopathy, and perivascular fibrosis. The hearts also show chronic inflammation and the animals have a 50% mortality at 7 weeks. VAL completely reversed these pathological features. SPIRO and VAL both prevented mortality, while only VAL normalized systolic blood pressure (VAL 121±9, SPIRO 161±11, dTGR 182±8, SD 109±2 mm Hg). Both reduced cardiac hypertrophy (SPIRO 4.2±0.1, VAL 3.6±0.1, dTGR 5.7±0.2, SD 3.6±0.1 mg/g) and reduced vasculopathy. Quantitative bFGF RT-PCR showed a complete mRNA reduction in the left ventricle in both treatment groups (SPIRO 11±4, VAL 5±1 dTGR 43±4, SD 4±1 arbitrary units). In contrast, RT-PCR of TGF beta and PDGF showed no upregulation in dTGR compared to non-transgenic hearts. Gel shift assay of the heart demonstrated a suppression of AP-1 and NF-κB DNA binding activity after SPIRO and VAL treatment. Immunohistology revealed reduced bFGF expression and less collagen I, fibronectin, and laminin in the interstitium of SPIRO and VAL-treated rats. These findings show that aldosterone promotes hypertrophy, cardiac remodeling, and fibrosis. In dTGR hearts this effect is at least partly mediated through the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-κB as well as bFGF. Blocking the aldosterone receptor downregulates these effector molecules and reduces angiotensin II-induced cardiac damage.