The PGC-1α/PPAR axis has been proposed as a potential therapeutic target for several metabolic disorders. The aim was to evaluate the efficacy of the pan-PPAR agonist, bezafibrate, in tafazzin knockdown mice (TazKD), a mouse model of Barth syndrome that exhibits age-dependent dilated cardiomyopathy with left ventricular (LV) dysfunction.
The effect of bezafibrate on cardiac function was evaluated by echocardiography in TazKD mice with or without beta-adrenergic stress. Adrenergic stress by chronic isoproterenol infusion exacerbates the cardiac phenotype in TazKD mice, significantly depressing LV systolic function by 4.5 months of age. Bezafibrate intake over 2 months substantially ameliorates the development of LV systolic dysfunction in isoproterenol-stressed TazKD mice. Without beta-adrenergic stress, TazKD mice develop dilated cardiomyopathy by 7 months of age. Prolonged treatment with suprapharmacological dose of bezafibrate (0.5% in rodent diet) over a 4-month period effectively prevented LV dilation in mice isoproterenol treatment. Bezafibrate increased mitochondrial biogenesis, however also promoted oxidative stress in cardiomyocytes. Surprisingly, improvement of systolic function in bezafibrate-treated mice was accompanied with simultaneous reduction of cardiolipin content and increase of monolysocardiolipin levels in cardiac muscle.
Thus, we demonstrate that bezafibrate has a potent therapeutic effect on preventing cardiac dysfunction in a mouse model of Barth syndrome with obvious implications for treating the human disease. Additional studies are needed to assess the potential benefits of PPAR agonists in humans with Barth syndrome.