NF-kappa B-mediated metabolic remodelling in the inflamed heart in acute viral myocarditis

Alexander H. V. Remels*, Wouter J. A. Derks, Berta Cillero-Pastor, Koen J. P. Verhees, Marco C. Kelders, Ward Heggermont, Paolo Carai, Georg Summer, Shane R. Ellis, Chiel C. de Theije, Ron M. A. Heeren, Stephane Heymans, Ana P. Papageorgiou, Marc van Bilsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Acute viral myocarditis (VM), characterised by leukocyte infiltration and dysfunction of the heart, is an important cause of sudden cardiac death in young adults. Unfortunately, to date, the pathological mechanisms underlying cardiac failure in VM remain incompletely understood. In the current study, we investigated if acute VM leads to cardiac metabolic rewiring and if this process is driven by local inflammation. Transcriptomic analysis of cardiac biopsies from myocarditis patients and a mouse model of VM revealed prominent reductions in the expression of a multitude of genes involved in mitochondria] oxidative energy metabolism. In mice, this coincided with reductions in high-energy phosphate and NAD levels, as determined by Imaging Mass Spectrometry, as well as marked decreases in the activity, protein abundance and mRNA levels of various enzymes and key regulators of cardiac oxidative metabolism. Indicative of fulminant cardiac inflammation, NF-kappa B signalling and inflammatory cytokine expression were potently induced in the heart during human and mouse VM. In cultured cardiomyocytes, cytokine-mediated NF-kappa B activation impaired cardiomyocyte oxidative gene expression, likely by interfering with the PGC-1 (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma co-activator) signalling network, the key regulatory pathway controlling cardiomyocyte oxidative metabolism. In conclusion, we provide evidence that acute VM is associated with extensive cardiac metabolic remodelling and our data support a mechanism whereby cytokines secreted primarily from infiltrating leukocytes activate NE-kappa B signalling in cardiomyocytes thereby inhibiting the transcriptional activity of the PGC-1 network and consequently modulating myocardial energy metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2579-2589
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta-Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Viral myocarditis
  • Metabolic remodelling
  • Mitochondrial oxidative metabolism
  • Inflammation
  • NF-kappa B
  • PGC-1

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