Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy

Sustaining cardiac claudin-5 levels prevents functional hallmarks of cardiomyopathy in a muscular dystrophy mouse model.

PMID 22547149


Identification of new molecular targets in heart failure could ultimately have a substantial positive impact on both the health and financial aspects of treating the large heart failure population. We originally identified reduced levels of the cell junction protein claudin-5 specifically in heart in the dystrophin/utrophin-deficient (Dmd(mdx);Utrn(-/-)) mouse model of muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy, which demonstrates physiological hallmarks of heart failure. We then showed that at least 60% of cardiac explant samples from patients with heart failure resulting from diverse etiologies also have reduced claudin-5 levels. These claudin-5 reductions were independent of changes in other cell junction proteins previously linked to heart failure. The goal of this study was to determine whether sustaining claudin-5 levels is sufficient to prevent the onset of histological and functional indicators of heart failure. Here, we show the proof-of-concept rescue experiment in the Dmd(mdx);Utrn(-/-) model, in which claudin-5 reductions were originally identified. Expression of claudin-5 4 weeks after a single administration of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) containing a claudin-5 expression cassette prevented the onset of physiological hallmarks of cardiomyopathy and improved histological signs of cardiac damage. This experiment demonstrates that claudin-5 may represent a novel treatment target for prevention of heart failure.