School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

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Persistent inflammation promotes development and progression of heart failure (HF). TWEAK (TNF-Related WEAK Inducer Of Apoptosis), a NF-κB- and/or AP-1-responsive proinflammatory cytokine that signals via TWEAK receptor (TWEAKR), is expressed at high levels in human and preclinical models of HF. Since the adapter molecule TRAF3IP2 (TRAF3 Interacting Protein 2) is an upstream regulator of various proinflammatory pathways, including those activated by NF-κB and AP-1, we hypothesized that targeting TRAF3IP2 inhibits TWEAK-induced proinflammatory and pro-fibrotic responses in vitro and in vivo. Consistent with the hypothesis, forced expression of TRAF3IP2 upregulated TWEAK and its receptor expression in cultured adult mouse cardiac fibroblasts (CF). Further, exogenous TWEAK upregulated TRAF3IP2 expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner, suggesting a positive-feedback regulation of TRAF3IP2 and TWEAK. TWEAK also promoted TRAF3IP2 nuclear translocation. Confirming its critical role in TWEAK signaling, silencing TRAF3IP2 inhibited TWEAK autoregulation, TWEAKR upregulation, p38 MAPK, NF-κB and AP-1 activation, inflammatory cytokine expression, MMP and TIMP1 activation, collagen expression and secretion, and importantly, proliferation and migration. Recapitulating these in vitro results, continuous infusion of TWEAK for 7 days increased systolic blood pressure (SBP), upregulated TRAF3IP2 expression, activated p38 MAPK, NF-κB and AP-1, induced the expression of multiple proinflammatory and pro-fibrotic mediators, and interstitial fibrosis in hearts of wild type mice. These proinflammatory and pro-fibrotic changes occurred in conjunction with myocardial hypertrophy and contractile dysfunction. Importantly, genetic ablation of TRAF3IP2 inhibited these TWEAK-induced adverse cardiac changes independent of increases in SBP, indicating that TRAF3IP2 plays a causal role, and thus a therapeutic target, in chronic inflammatory and fibro-proliferative diseases.

Publication Title

Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology



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Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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