Background: Trypanosoma cruzi is an intracellular parasite that causes debilitating chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCM), for which there is no effective drug or vaccine. Previously, we demonstrated increased cardiac lipid accumulation and endoplasmic reticulum stress in mice with CCM. Increased endoplasmic reticulum stress may lead to uncontrolled SREBP (sterol regulatory element-binding protein) activation and lipotoxicity in the myocardium during the intermediate stage of infection and result in progression to chronic CCM. Therefore, we investigated whether inhibiting SREBP activation modulates CCM progression in T cruzi–infected mice. Methods and Results: T cruzi–infected cultured cardiomyocytes (3:1 multiplicity of infection; 24 hours postinfection) were incubated with betulin (3 μmol/L per mL), an SREBP inhibitor, for 24 hours. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting analyses demonstrated a significant reduction in SREBP activation, lipid biosynthesis, and endoplasmic reticulum stress in betulin-treated infected cells compared with untreated cells. T cruzi infected (103 trypomastigotes of the Brazil strain) Swiss mice were fed a customized diet containing betulin during the intermediate stage (40 days postinfection) until the chronic stage (120 DPI). Cardiac ultrasound imaging and histological and biochemical analyses demonstrated anatomical and functional improvements in betulin-treated, infected mice compared with untreated controls: we observed a significant reduction in cholesterol/fatty acid synthesis that may result in the observed cardiac reduction in cardiac lipid accumulation, mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum stress, and ventricular enlargement. Conclusions: Our study (in vitro and vivo) demonstrates that inhibition of cardiac SREBP activation reduces cardiac damage during T cruzi infection and modulates CCM in a murine Chagas model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Chagas disease
- SREBP activation
- endoplasmic reticulum stress
- mitochondrial stress