King's College London

Research portal

DKK3 overexpression attenuates cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis in an angiotensin-perfused animal model by regulating the ADAM17/ACE2 and GSK-3β/β-catenin pathways

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chun-gang Zhai, Ye-yang Xu, Yuan-yuan Tie, Ya Zhang, Wen-qiang Chen, Xiao-ping Ji, Yang Mao, Lei Qiao, Jing Cheng, Qing-Bo Xu, Cheng Zhang

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Early online date2 Dec 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2017

King's Authors


Aims Cardiac pressure and humoral factors induce cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, which are characterized by increased stiffness, reduced contractility and altered perfusion. Angiotensin II (AngII) is well known to promote this pathology. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) 2, which cleaves AngII and forms Ang-(1–7), exerts protective anti-hypertrophy and anti-fibrosis effects. A disintegrin and metalloproteinase 17 (ADAM17), a membrane-bound enzyme reported to cleave ACE2, may participate in the pathological process of AngII perfusion-induced heart damage. However, researchers have not clearly determined whether dickkopf-3 (DKK3) regulates the ADAM17/ACE2 pathway and, if so, whether DKK3-mediated regulation is related to the glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β)/β-catenin pathway. In this study, we explored whether DKK3 overexpression ameliorates the development of AngII-induced cardiac fibrosis and hypertrophy through the ADAM17/ACE2 and GSK-3β/β-catenin pathways. Methods Mice were injected with a DKK3-overexpressing adenovirus or vehicle and then infused with AngII or saline using subcutaneously implanted mini-pumps for four weeks. Hearts were stained with hematoxylin-eosin, Masson's trichrome and immunohistochemical markers for histology. Primary fibroblasts were treated with the adenovirus and AngII and then examined using western blotting, EdU (5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine) assays and immunofluorescence. Additionally, siRNA silencing was performed to study the role of DKK3 and the involved pathways. Results AngII-induced cardiac hypertrophy and interstitial and perivascular fibrosis were less severe in DKK3-overexpressing mice than in control mice. Moreover, the expression levels of fibrotic genes, such as collagen I and III, and the hypertrophic genes atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and beta-myosin heavy chain (β-MHC) were decreased. DKK3 overexpression also exerted a protective effect by inhibiting ADAM17 phosphorylation, thus increasing ACE2 expression and subsequently promoting AngII degradation. Furthermore, this process was mediated by the inhibition of GSK-3β and β-catenin and decreased translocation of β-catenin to the nucleus. On the other hand, the DKK3 knockdown by siRNA achieved opposite results. Conclusion DKK3 overexpression substantially alleviated AngII infusion-induced cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis by regulating ADAM17/ACE2 pathway activity and inhibiting the GSK-3β/β-catenin pathway.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454