Cardiac alpha1-adrenergic receptors: Novel aspects of expression, signaling mechanisms, physiologic function, and clinical importance

Timothy D. O'Connell, Brian C. Jensen, Anthony J. Baker, Paul C. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adrenergic receptors (AR) are G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that have a crucial role in cardiac physiology in health and disease. Alpha1-ARs signal through Gαq, and signaling through Gq, for example, by endothelin and angiotensin receptors, is thought to be detrimental to the heart. In contrast, cardiac alpha1-ARs mediate important protective and adaptive functions in the heart, although alpha1-ARs are only a minor fraction of total cardiac ARs. Cardiac alpha1-ARs activate pleiotropic downstream signaling to prevent pathologic remodeling in heart failure. Mechanisms defined in animal and cell models include activation of adaptive hypertrophy, prevention of cardiac myocyte death, augmentation of contractility, and induction of ischemic preconditioning. Surprisingly, at the molecular level, alpha1-ARs localize to and signal at the nucleus in cardiac myocytes, and, unlike most GPCRs, activate "inside-out" signaling to cause cardioprotection. Contrary to past opinion, human cardiac alpha1-AR expression is similar to that in the mouse, where alpha1-AR effects are seen most convincingly in knockout models. Human clinical studies show that alpha1-blockade worsens heart failure in hypertension and does not improve outcomes in heart failure, implying a cardioprotective role for human alpha1-ARs. In summary, these findings identify novel functional and mechanistic aspects of cardiac alpha1-AR function and suggest that activation of cardiac alpha1-AR might be a viable therapeutic strategy in heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-333
Number of pages26
JournalPharmacological Reviews
Volume66
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

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