Expression of the β-myosin heavy chain (β-MHC), a major component of the cardiac contractile apparatus, is tightly regulated as even modest increases can be detrimental to heart under stress. In healthy hearts, continuous inhibition of β-adrenergic tone upregulates β-MHC expression. However, it is unknown whether the duration of the β-adrenergic inhibition and β-MHC expression are related. Here, we evaluated the effects of intermittent β-blockade on cardiac β-MHC expression. To this end, the β-blocker propranolol, at the dose of 15mg/kg, was administered once a day in mice for 14 days. This dosing schedule caused daily drug-free periods of at least 6 h as evidenced by propranolol plasma concentrations and cardiac β-adrenergic responsiveness. Under these conditions, β-MHC expression decreased by about 75% compared to controls. This effect was abolished in mice lacking β1- but not β2-adrenergic receptors (β-AR) indicating that β-MHC expression is regulated in a β1-AR-dependent manner. In β1-AR knockout mice, the baseline β-MHC expression was fourfold higher than in wild-type mice. Also, we evaluated the impact of intermittent β-blockade on β-MHC expression in mice with systolic dysfunction, in which an increased β-MHC expression occurs. At 3 weeks after myocardial infarction, mice showed systolic dysfunction and upregulation of β-MHC expression. Intermittent β-blockade decreased β-MHC expression while attenuating cardiac dysfunction. In vitro studies showed that propranolol does not affect β-MHC expression on its own but antagonizes catecholamine effects on β-MHC expression. In conclusion, a direct relationship occurs between the duration of the β-adrenergic inhibition and β-MHC expression through the β1-AR.
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