Diabetic cardiomyopathy is a distinct form of heart disease that represents a major cause of death and disability in diabetic patients, particularly, the more prevalent type 2 diabetes patient population. In the current study, we investigated whether administration of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors carrying a constitutively active phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)(p110α) construct (rAAV6-caPI3K) at a clinically relevant time point attenuates diabetic cardiomyopathy in a preclinical type 2 diabetes (T2D) model. T2D was induced by a combination of a high-fat diet (42% energy intake from lipid) and low-dose streptozotocin (three consecutive intraperitoneal injections of 55 mg/kg body wt), and confirmed by increased body weight, mild hyperglycemia, and impaired glucose tolerance (all P < 0.05 vs. nondiabetic mice). After 18 wk of untreated diabetes, impaired left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction was evident, as confirmed by reduced fractional shortening and velocity of circumferential fiber shortening (Vcfc, all P < 0.01 vs. baseline measurement). A single tail vein injection of rAAV6-caPI3K gene therapy (2×1011vector genomes) was then administered. Mice were followed for an additional 8 wk before end point. A single injection of cardiac targeted rAAV6-caPI3K attenuated diabetes-induced cardiac remodeling by limiting cardiac fibrosis (reduced interstitial and perivascular collagen deposition, P < 0.01 vs. T2D mice) and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy (reduced cardiomyocyte size and Nppa gene expression, P < 0.001 and P < 0.05 vs. T2D mice, respectively). The diabetes-induced LV systolic dysfunction was reversed with rAAV6-caPI3K, as demonstrated by improved fractional shortening and velocity of circumferential fiber shortening (all P < 0.05 vs pre-AAV measurement). This cardioprotection occurred in combination with reduced LV reactive oxygen species ( P < 0.05 vs. T2D mice) and an associated decrease in markers of endoplasmic reticulum stress (reduced Grp94 and Chop, all P < 0.05 vs. T2D mice). Together, our findings demonstrate that a cardiac-selective increase in PI3K(p110α), via rAAV6-caPI3K, attenuates T2D-induced diabetic cardiomyopathy, providing proof of concept for potential translation to the clinic.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Diabetes remains a major cause of death and disability worldwide (and its resultant heart failure burden), despite current care. The lack of existing management of heart failure in the context of the poorer prognosis of concomitant diabetes represents an unmet clinical need. In the present study, we now demonstrate that delayed intervention with PI3K gene therapy (rAAV6-caPI3K), administered as a single dose in mice with preexisting type 2 diabetes, attenuates several characteristics of diabetic cardiomyopathy, including diabetes-induced impairments in cardiac remodeling, oxidative stress, and function. Our discovery here contributes to the previous body of work, suggesting the cardioprotective effects of PI3K(p110α) could be a novel therapeutic approach to reduce the progression to heart failure and death in diabetes-affected patients.