Although left ventricular (LV) diastolic dysfunction is often associated with hypertension, little is known regarding its underlying pathophysiological mechanism. Here, we show that the actin cytoskeletal regulator, Rho-associated coiled-coil containing kinase-2 (ROCK2), is a critical mediator of LV diastolic dysfunction. In response to angiotensin II (Ang II), mutant mice with fibroblast-specific deletion of ROCK2 (ROCK2Postn–/–) developed less LV wall thickness and fibrosis, along with improved isovolumetric relaxation. This corresponded with decreased connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and fibroblast growth factor–2 (FGF2) expression in the hearts of ROCK2Postn–/– mice. Indeed, knockdown of ROCK2 in cardiac fibroblasts leads to decreased expression of CTGF and secretion of FGF2, and cardiomyocytes incubated with conditioned media from ROCK2-knockdown cardiac fibroblasts exhibited less hypertrophic response. In contrast, mutant mice with elevated fibroblast ROCK activity exhibited enhanced Ang II–stimulated cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. Clinically, higher leukocyte ROCK2 activity was observed in patients with diastolic dysfunction compared with age- and sex-matched controls, and correlated with higher grades of diastolic dysfunction by echocardiography. These findings indicate that fibroblast ROCK2 is necessary to cause cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis through the induction CTGF and FGF2, and they suggest that targeting ROCK2 may have therapeutic benefits in patients with LV diastolic dysfunction.
Toru Shimizu, Nikhil Narang, Phetcharat Chen, Brian Yu, Maura Knapp, Jyothi Janardanan, John Blair, James K. Liao
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.