Increased fibrosis is a characteristic remodeling response to biomechanical and neurohumoral stress and a determinant of cardiac mechanical and electrical dysfunction in disease. Stress-induced activation of cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) is a critical step in the fibrotic response, although the precise sequence of events underlying activation of these critical cells in vivo remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a βIV-spectrin/STAT3 complex is essential for maintenance of a quiescent phenotype (basal nonactivated state) in CFs. We reported increased fibrosis, decreased cardiac function, and electrical impulse conduction defects in genetic and acquired mouse models of βIV-spectrin deficiency. Loss of βIV-spectrin function promoted STAT3 nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activity, and it altered gene expression and CF activation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a quiescent phenotype may be restored in βIV-spectrin–deficient fibroblasts by expressing a βIV-spectrin fragment including the STAT3-binding domain or through pharmacological STAT3 inhibition. We found that in vivo STAT3 inhibition abrogates fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction in the setting of global βIV-spectrin deficiency. Finally, we demonstrate that fibroblast-specific deletion of βIV-spectrin is sufficient to induce fibrosis and decreased cardiac function. We propose that the βIV-spectrin/STAT3 complex is a determinant of fibroblast phenotype and fibrosis, with implications for remodeling response in cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Nehal J. Patel, Drew M. Nassal, Amara D. Greer-Short, Sathya D. Unudurthi, Benjamin W. Scandling, Daniel Gratz, Xianyao Xu, Anuradha Kalyanasundaram, Vadim V. Fedorov, Federica Accornero, Peter J. Mohler, Keith J. Gooch, Thomas J. Hund
Cardiac mechanical and electrical dysfunction in the setting of βIV-spectrin deficiency.