Double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase deficiency protects the heart from systolic overload-induced congestive heart failure

Huan Wang, Xin Xu, John Fassett, Dongmin Kwak, Xiaoyu Liu, Xinli Hu, Therasa J. Falls, John C. Bell, Hongliang Li, Peter Bitterman, Robert J. Bache, Yingjie Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND-: Double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is a eukaryotic initiation factor 2α kinase that inhibits mRNA translation under stress conditions. PKR also mediates inflammatory and apoptotic signaling independently of translational regulation. Congestive heart failure is associated with cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, inflammation, and apoptosis, but the role of PKR in left ventricular hypertrophy and the development of congestive heart failure has not been examined. METHODS AND RESULTS-: We observed increased myocardial PKR expression and translocation of PKR into the nucleus in humans and mice with congestive heart failure. To determine the impact of PKR on the development of congestive heart failure, PKR knockout and wild-type mice were exposed to pressure overload produced by transverse aortic constriction. Although heart size increased similarly in wild-type and PKR knockout mice after transverse aortic constriction, PKR knockout mice exhibited very little pulmonary congestion, well-preserved left ventricular ejection fraction and contractility, and significantly less myocardial fibrosis compared with wild-type mice. Bone marrow-derived cells from wild-type mice did not abolish the cardiac protective effect observed in PKR knockout mice, whereas bone marrow-derived cells from PKR knockout mice had no cardiac protective effect in wild-type mice. Mechanistically, PKR knockout attenuated transverse aortic constriction-induced tumor necrosis factor-α expression and leukocyte infiltration and lowered cardiac expression of proapoptotic factors (Bax and caspase-3), so that PKR knockout hearts were more resistant to transverse aortic constriction-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis. PKR depletion in isolated cardiomyocytes also conferred protection against tumor necrosis factor-α-or lipopolysaccharide-induced apoptosis. CONCLUSION-: PKR is a maladaptive factor upregulated in hemodynamic overload that contributes to myocardial inflammation, cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and the development of congestive heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1397-1406
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014


  • apoptosis
  • heart failure
  • inflammation
  • innate immunity
  • protein kinases R
  • translation initiation
  • translation regulation


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