The development of left ventricular cardiomyocyte hypertrophy in response to increased hemodynamic load and neurohormonal stress is initially a compensatory response. However, persistent stress eventually leads to dilated heart failure, which is a common cause of heart failure in human hypertensive and valvular heart disease. We have recently reported that Rho-associated coiled-coil containing protein kinase 1 (ROCK1) homozygous knockout mice exhibited reduced cardiac fibrosis and cardiomyocyte apoptosis, while displaying a preserved compensatory hypertrophic response to pressure overload. In this study, we have tested the effects of ROCK1 deficiency on cardiac hypertrophy, dilation, and dysfunction. We have shown that ROCK1 deletion attenuated left ventricular dilation and contractile dysfunction, but not hypertrophy, in a transgenic model of Gαq overexpression-induced hypertrophy which represents a well-characterized and highly relevant genetic mouse model of pathological hypertrophy. Although the development of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy was not affected, ROCK1 deletion in Gαq mice resulted in a concentric hypertrophic phenotype associated with reduced induction of hypertrophic markers indicating that ROCK1 deletion could favorably modify hypertrophy without inhibiting it. Furthermore, ROCK1 deletion also improved contractile response to β-adrenergic stimulation in Gαq transgenic mice. Consistent with this observation, ROCK1 deletion prevented down-regulation of type V/VI adenylyl cyclase expression, which is associated with the impaired β-adrenergic signaling in Gαq mice. The present study establishes for the first time a role for ROCK1 in cardiac dilation and contractile dysfunction.
- Cardiac dilation
- Contractile dysfunction
- Pathological cardiac hypertrophy
- ROCK1 knockout mice
- Rho kinase