Myocyte Enhancer Factor 2 and Class II Histone Deacetylases Control a Gender-Specific Pathway of Cardioprotection Mediated by the Estrogen Receptor

Eva van Rooij, Jens Fielitz, Lillian B. Sutherland, Victor L. Thijssen, Harry J. Crijns, Michael J. Dimaio, John Shelton, Leon J. De Windt, Joseph A. Hill, Eric N. Olson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Rationale: Gender differences in cardiovascular disease have long been recognized and attributed to beneficial cardiovascular actions of estrogen. Class II histone deacetylases (HDACs) act as key modulators of heart disease by repressing the activity of the myocyte enhancer factor (MEF)2 transcription factor, which promotes pathological cardiac remodeling in response to stress. Although it is proposed that HDACs additionally influence nuclear receptor signaling, the effect of class II HDACs on gender differences in cardiovascular disease remains unstudied. Objective: We aimed to examine the effect of class II HDACs on post-myocardial infarction remodeling in male and female mice. Methods and Results: Here we show that the absence of HDAC5 or -9 in female mice protects against maladaptive remodeling following myocardial infarction, during which there is an upregulation of estrogen-responsive genes in the heart. This genetic reprogramming coincides with a pronounced increase in expression of the estrogen receptor (ER)alpha gene, which we show to be a direct MEF2 target gene. ER alpha also directly interacts with class II HDACs. Cardioprotection resulting from the absence of HDAC5 or -9 in female mice can be attributed, at least in part, to enhanced neoangiogenesis in the infarcted region via upregulation of the ER target gene vascular endothelial growth factor-a. Conclusions: Our results reveal a novel gender-specific pathway of cardioprotection mediated by ER alpha and its regulation by MEF2 and class II HDACs. (Circ Res. 2010;106:155-165.)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-U315
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2010


  • estrogen receptor
  • cardiac remodeling
  • myocardial infarction
  • class II HDACs

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