Exposure to rosiglitazone, a PPAR-γ agonist, in late gestation reduces the abundance of factors regulating cardiac metabolism and cardiomyocyte size in the sheep fetus

Shervi Lie, Melisa Hui, I. Caroline McMillen, Beverly S. Muhlhausler, Giuseppe S. Posterino, Stacey L. Dunn, Kimberley C. Wang, Kimberley J. Botting, Janna L. Morrison

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It is unknown whether cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and the transition to fatty acid oxidation as the main source of energy after birth is dependent on the maturation of the cardiomyocytes' metabolic system, or on the limitation of substrate availability before birth. This study aimed to investigate whether intrafetal administration of a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) agonist, rosiglitazone, during late gestation can stimulate the expression of factors regulating cardiac growth and metabolism in preparation for birth, and the consequences of cardiac contractility in the fetal sheep at ~140 days gestation. The mRNA expression and protein abundance of key factors regulating growth and metabolism were quantified using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. Cardiac contractility was determined by measuring the Ca2+ sensitivity and maximum Ca2+-activated force of skinned cardiomyocyte bundles. Rosiglitazone-treated fetuses had a lower cardiac abundance of insulin-signaling molecules, including insulin receptor-β, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), phospho-IRS-1 (Tyr-895), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) regulatory subunit p85, PI3K catalytic subunit p110α, phospho-3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (Ser-241), protein kinase B (Akt-1), phospho-Akt (Ser-273), PKCζ, phospho-PKCζ(Thr-410), Akt substrate 160 kDa (AS160), phospho-AS160 (Thr-642), and glucose transporter type-4. Additionally, cardiac abundance of regulators of fatty acid β-oxidation, including adiponectin receptor 1, AMPKα, phospho-AMPKα (Thr-172), phospho-acetyl CoA carboxylase (Ser-79), carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1, and PGC-1α was lower in the rosiglitazone-treated group. Rosiglitazone administration also resulted in a decrease in cardiomyocyte size. Rosiglitazone administration in the late-gestation sheep fetus resulted in a decreased abundance of factors regulating cardiac glucose uptake, fatty acid β-oxidation, and cardiomyocyte size. These findings suggest that activation of PPAR-γ using rosiglitazone does not promote the maturation of cardiomyocytes; rather, it may decrease cardiac metabolism and compromise cardiac health later in life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adiponectin
  • Binucleated
  • Contractility
  • Fatty acid
  • Fetus
  • Glucose transporter
  • Insulin
  • Mononucleated
  • Pregnancy
  • Programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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