Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a major cause of heart failure without effective therapy. Fibrogenesis plays a key role in the development of DCM, but little is known of the expression of the profibrotic factor galectin-3 (Gal-3) and its role in DCM pathophysiology. In a mouse DCM model with transgenic (TG) overexpression of mammalian sterile 20-like kinase 1 (Mst1), we studied Gal-3 expression and effects of the Gal-3 inhibitor modified citrus pectin (MCP) or Gal-3 gene knockout (KO). Gal-3 deletion in TG mice (TG/KO) was achieved by crossbreeding Mst1-TG mice with Gal-3 KO mice. The DCM phenotype was assessed by echocardiography and micromanometry. Cardiac expression of Gal-3 and fibrosis were determined. The cardiac transcriptome was profiled by RNA sequencing. Mst1-TG mice at 3−8 mo of age exhibited upregulated expression of Gal-3 by ~40-fold. TG mice had dilatation of cardiac chambers, suppressed left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction, poor LV contractility and relaxation, a threefold increase in LV collagen content, and upregulated fibrotic genes. Four-month treatment with MCP showed no beneficial effects. Gal-3 deletion in Mst1-TG mice attenuated chamber dilatation, organ congestion, and fibrogenesis. RNA sequencing identified profound disturbances by Mst1 overexpression in the cardiac transcriptome, which largely remained in TG/KO hearts. Gal-3 deletion in Mst1-TG mice, however, partially reversed the dysregulated transcriptional signaling involving extracellular matrix remodeling and collagen formation. We conclude that cardiac Mst1 activation leads to marked Gal-3 upregulation and transcriptome disturbances in the heart. Gal-3 deficiency attenuated cardiac remodeling and fibrotic signaling.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We found in a transgenic mouse dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) model a pronounced upregulation of galectin-3 in cardiomyocytes. Galectin-3 gene deletion reduced cardiac fibrosis and fibrotic gene profiles and ameliorated cardiac remodeling and dysfunction. These benefits of galectin-3 deletion were in contrast to the lack of effect of treatment with the galectin-3 inhibitor modified citrus pectin. Our study suggests that suppression of galectin-3 mRNA expression could be used to treat DCM with high cardiac galectin-3 content.