Gestational diabetes triggers postpartum cardiac hypertrophy via activation of calcineurin/NFAT signaling

Nirmal Verma, Sarah Srodulski, Sathya Velmurugan, Amanda Hoskins, Vivek K. Pandey, Florin Despa, Sanda Despa

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5 Scopus citations


Population-based studies identified an association between a prior pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and cardiac hypertrophy and dysfunction later in life. It is however unclear whether GDM initiates this phenotype and what are the underlying mechanisms. We addressed these questions by using female rats that express human amylin (HIP rats) as a GDM model and their wild-type (WT) littermates as the normal pregnancy model. Pregnant and two months postpartum HIP females had increased left-ventricular mass and wall thickness compared to non-pregnant HIP females, which indicates the presence of concentric hypertrophy. These parameters were unchanged in WT females during both pregnancy and postpartum periods. Hypertrophic Ca2+-dependent calcineurin/NFAT signaling was stimulated two months after giving birth in HIP females but not in the WT. In contrast, the CaMKII/HDAC hypertrophy pathway was active immediately after giving birth and returned to the baseline by two months postpartum in both WT and HIP females. Myocytes from two months postpartum HIP females exhibited slower Ca2+ transient relaxation and higher diastolic Ca2+ levels, which may explain calcineurin activation. No such effects occurred in the WT. These results suggest that a GDM-complicated pregnancy accelerates the development of pathological cardiac remodeling likely through activation of calcineurin/NFAT signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20926
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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© 2021, The Author(s).

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