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Articles by D Westermann
Total Records ( 4 ) for D Westermann
  M Swinnen , D Vanhoutte , G. C Van Almen , N Hamdani , M. W.M Schellings , J D'hooge , J Van der Velden , M. S Weaver , E. H Sage , P Bornstein , F. K Verheyen , T VandenDriessche , M. K Chuah , D Westermann , W. J Paulus , F Van de Werf , B Schroen , P Carmeliet , Y. M Pinto and S. Heymans

Background— The progressive shift from a young to an aged heart is characterized by alterations in the cardiac matrix. The present study investigated whether the matricellular protein thrombospondin-2 (TSP-2) may affect cardiac dimensions and function with physiological aging of the heart.

Methods and Results— TSP-2 knockout (KO) and wild-type mice were followed up to an age of 60 weeks. Survival rate, cardiac function, and morphology did not differ at a young age in TSP-2 KO compared with wild-type mice. However, >55% of the TSP-2 KO mice died between 24 and 60 weeks of age, whereas <10% of the wild-type mice died. In the absence of TSP-2, older mice displayed a severe dilated cardiomyopathy with impaired systolic function, increased cardiac dilatation, and fibrosis. Ultrastructural analysis revealed progressive myocyte stress and death, accompanied by an inflammatory response and replacement fibrosis, in aging TSP-2 KO animals, whereas capillary or coronary morphology or density was not affected. Importantly, adeno-associated virus-9 gene–mediated transfer of TSP-2 in 7-week-old TSP-2 KO mice normalized their survival and prevented dilated cardiomyopathy. In TSP-2 KO animals, age-related cardiomyopathy was accompanied by increased matrix metalloproteinase-2 and decreased tissue transglutaminase-2 activity, together with impaired collagen cross-linking. At the cardiomyocyte level, TSP-2 deficiency in vivo and its knockdown in vitro decreased the activation of the Akt survival pathway in cardiomyocytes.

Conclusion— TSP-2 expression in the heart protects against age-dependent dilated cardiomyopathy.

  S Pinkert , D Westermann , X Wang , K Klingel , A Dorner , K Savvatis , T Grossl , S Krohn , C Tschope , H Zeichhardt , K Kotsch , K Weitmann , W Hoffmann , H. P Schultheiss , O. B Spiller , W Poller and H. Fechner

Background— Group B coxsackieviruses (CVBs) are the prototypical agents of acute myocarditis and chronic dilated cardiomyopathy, but an effective targeted therapy is still not available. Here, we analyze the therapeutic potential of a soluble (s) virus receptor molecule against CVB3 myocarditis using a gene therapy approach.

Methods and Results— We generated an inducible adenoviral vector (AdG12) for strict drug-dependent delivery of sCAR-Fc, a fusion protein composed of the coxsackievirus-adenovirus receptor (CAR) extracellular domains and the carboxyl terminus of human IgG1-Fc. Decoy receptor expression was strictly doxycycline dependent, with no expression in the absence of an inducer. CVB3 infection of HeLa cells was efficiently blocked by supernatant from AdG12-transduced cells, but only in the presence of doxycycline. After liver-specific transfer, AdG12 (plus doxycycline) significantly improved cardiac contractility and diastolic relaxation compared with a control vector in CVB3-infected mice if sCAR-Fc was induced before infection (left ventricular pressure 59±3.8 versus 45.4±2.7 mm Hg, median 59 versus 45.8 mm Hg, P<0.01; dP/dtmax 3645.1±443.6 versus 2057.9±490.2 mm Hg/s, median 3526.6 versus 2072 mm Hg/s, P<0.01; and dP/dtmin –2125.5±330.5 versus –1310.2±330.3 mm Hg/s, median –2083.7 versus –1295.9 mm Hg/s, P<0.01) and improved contractility if induced concomitantly with infection (left ventricular pressure 76.4±19.2 versus 56.8±10.3 mm Hg, median 74.8 versus 54.4 mm Hg, P<0.05; dP/dtmax 5214.2±1786.2 versus 3011.6±918.3 mm Hg/s, median 5182.1 versus 3106.6 mm Hg/s, P<0.05), respectively. Importantly, hemodynamics of animals treated with AdG12 (plus doxycycline) were similar to uninfected controls. Preinfection induction of sCAR-Fc completely blocked and concomitant induction strongly reduced cardiac CVB3 infection, myocardial injury, and inflammation.

Conclusion— AdG12-mediated sCAR-Fc delivery prevents cardiac dysfunction in CVB3 myocarditis under prophylactic and therapeutic conditions.

  Y Wang , C Qian , A. J.M Roks , D Westermann , S. M Schumacher , F Escher , R. G Schoemaker , T. L Reudelhuber , W. H van Gilst , H. P Schultheiss , C Tschope and T. Walther

Background— Angiotensin (Ang)-(1-7) attenuates the development of heart failure. In addition to its local effects on cardiovascular tissue, Ang-(1-7) also stimulates bone marrow, which harbors cells that might complement the therapeutic effect of Ang-(1-7). We studied the effects of Ang-(1-7) either produced locally in the heart or subcutaneously injected during the development of heart failure induced by myocardial infarction (MI) and explored the role of cardiovascular progenitor cells in promoting the effects of this heptapeptide.

Methods and Results— Effects of Ang-(1-7) on bone marrow–derived mononuclear cells in rodents, particularly endothelial progenitor cells, were investigated in vitro and in vivo in rats, in mice deficient for the putative Ang-(1-7) receptor Mas, and in mice overexpressing Ang-(1-7) exclusively in the heart. Three weeks after MI induction through permanent coronary artery occlusion, effects of Ang-(1-7) either produced locally in the heart or injected into the subcutaneous space were investigated. Ang-(1-7) stimulated proliferation of endothelial progenitor cells isolated from sham or infarcted rodents. The stimulation was blunted by A779, a Mas receptor blocker, or by Mas deficiency. Infusion of Ang-(1-7) after MI increased the number of c-kit– and vascular endothelial growth factor–positive cells in infarcted hearts, inhibited cardiac hypertrophy, and improved cardiac function 3 weeks after MI, whereas cardiomyocyte-derived Ang-(1-7) had no effect.

Conclusions— Our data suggest circulating rather than cardiac Ang-(1-7) to be beneficial after MI. This beneficial effect correlates with a stimulation of cardiac progenitor cells in vitro and in vivo. This characterizes the heptapeptide as a promising new tool in stimulating cardiovascular regeneration under pathophysiological conditions.

  D Westermann , T Walther , K Savvatis , F Escher , M Sobirey , A Riad , M Bader , H. P Schultheiss and C. Tschope

Diabetic cardiomyopathy is associated with increased mortality in patients with diabetes. The underlying pathology of this disease is still under discussion. We studied the role of the kinin B1 receptor on the development of experimental diabetic cardiomyopathy.


We utilized B1 receptor knockout mice and investigated cardiac inflammation, fibrosis, and oxidative stress after induction of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. Furthermore, the left ventricular function was measured by pressure-volume loops after 8 weeks of diabetes.


B1 receptor knockout mice showed an attenuation of diabetic cardiomyopathy with improved systolic and diastolic function in comparison with diabetic control mice. This was associated with a decreased activation state of the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38, less oxidative stress, as well as normalized cardiac inflammation, shown by fewer invading cells and no increase in matrix metalloproteinase-9 as well as the chemokine CXCL-5. Furthermore, the profibrotic connective tissue growth factor was normalized, leading to a reduction in cardiac fibrosis despite severe hyperglycemia in mice lacking the B1 receptor.


These findings suggest that the B1 receptor is detrimental in diabetic cardiomyopathy in that it mediates inflammatory and fibrotic processes. These insights might have useful implications on future studies utilizing B1 receptor antagonists for treatment of human diabetic cardiomyopathy.

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