Chronic Treatment of TMAO Undermines Mouse Cardiac Structure and Function in a Sex-specific Manner

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Virginia Tech

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, often with heart failure as the terminal stage. Clinical studies have associated elevated levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a gut-derived metabolite, with adverse outcomes of CVD. As of today, TMAO's effects on cardiac structure and function are not well understood. In this study, both male and female TMAO-treated hearts showed functional deficits based on electrocardiography and echocardiography results. Immunohistochemistry results showed signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in TMAO-treated male hearts while female TMAO-treated hearts showed signs of dilated cardiomyopathy. Neither TMAO group showed signs of fibrosis. Overproduction of reactive oxygen species was only observed in male TMAO-treated hearts. At the level of individual cardiomyocytes, significant delays in time to reach maximum contraction and dilation were only seen in TMAO-treated male hearts along with higher contractile force. Overall, TMAO-treated hearts show significant functional deficits with altered structure in a sex-specific way. Our study utilizes a variety of methods to comprehensively characterize features of TMAO-induced heart failure in both males and females which extends our current knowledge from human clinical associations.

TMAO, gut microbiota, heart structure, heart function