Sci Rep 2017 01 16;7:40523. Epub 2017 Jan 16.
School of Pharmacy, Key Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Evaluation (Yantai University), Ministry of Education, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Drug Delivery System and Biotech Drugs in Universities of Shandong, Yantai University, Yantai, 264005, P.R. China.
Pirfenidone (PFD), an anti-fibrotic small molecule drug, is used to treat fibrotic diseases, but its effects on myocardial infarction (MI)-induced cardiac fibrosis are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of PFD on MI-induced cardiac fibrosis and the possible underlying mechanisms in rats. After establishment of the model, animals were administered PFD by gavage for 4 weeks. During the development of MI-induced cardiac fibrosis, we found activation of a positive feedback loop between the angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R)/phospho-p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) pathway and renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which was accompanied by down-regulation of liver X receptor-α (LXR-α) expression. PFD attenuated body weight, heart weight, left ventricular weight, left ventricular systolic pressure, and ±dp/dt changes induced by MI, which were associated with a reduction in cardiac fibrosis, infarct size, and hydroxyproline concentration. Moreover, PFD inhibited the AT1R/p38 MAPK pathway, corrected the RAS imbalance [decreased angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), angiotensin II, and angiotensin II type 1 receptor expression, but increased ACE2 and angiotensin (1-7) activity and Mas expression] and strongly enhanced heart LXR-α expression. These results indicate that the cardioprotective effects of PFD may be due, in large part, to controlling the feedback loop of the AT1R/p38 MAPK/RAS axis by activation of LXR-α.