Microenvironment stiffness requires decellularized cardiac extracellular matrix to promote heart regeneration in the neonatal mouse heart

Xinming Wang, Subhadip Senapati, Akinola Akinbote, Bhargavee Gnanasambandam, Paul S.H. Park, Samuel E. Senyo
Acta Biomaterialia2020
The transient period of regeneration potential in the postnatal heart suggests molecular changes with maturation influence the cardiac response to damage. We have previously demonstrated that injury and exercise can stimulate cardiomyocyte proliferation in the adult heart suggesting a sensitivity to exogenous signals. Here, we consider whether exogenous fetal ECM and mechanically unloading interstitial matrix can drive regeneration after myocardial infarction (MI) surgery in low-regenerative hearts of day5 mice. Compared to controls, exogenous fetal ECM increases cardiac function and lowers fibrosis at 3 weeks post-injury and this effect can be augmented by softening heart tissue. In vitro experiments support a mechano-sensitivity to exogenous ECM signaling. We tested potential mechanisms and observed that fetal ECM increases nuclear YAP localization which could be enhanced by pharmacological stabilization of the cytoskeleton. Blocking YAP expression lowered fetal ECM effects though not completely. Lastly we observed mechanically unloading heart interstitial matrix increased agrin expression, an extracellular node in the YAP signaling pathway. Collectively, these data support a combined effect of exogenous factors and mechanical activity in altering agrin expression, cytoskeletal remodeling, and YAP signaling in driving cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity and regeneration in postnatal non-regenerative mice. Statement of Significance: With the purpose of developing regenerative strategies, we investigate the influence of the local niche on the cardiac injury response. We conclude tissue stiffness, as anticipated in aging or disease, impairs regenerative therapeutics. Most novel, mechanical unloading facilitates enhanced cardiac regeneration only after cells are pushed into a permissive state by fetal biomolecules. Specifically, mechanical unloading appears to increase extracellular agrin expression that amplifies fetal-stimulation of nuclear YAP signaling which correlates with observed increases of cell cycle activity in cardiomyocytes. The results further suggest the cytoskeleton is critical to this interaction between mechanical unloading and independently actived YAP signaling. Using animal models, tissue explants, and cells, this work indicates that local mechanical stimuli can augment proliferating-permissive cardiomyocytes in the natural cardiac niche.
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