Autophagy inhibition enables NRF2 to exaggerate the progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy in mice

Huimei Zang, Weiwei Wu, Lei Qi, Wenbin Tan, Prakash Nagarkatti, Mitzi Nagarkatti, Xuejun Wang, Taixing Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Nuclear factor-erythroid factor 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) may either ameliorate or worsen diabetic cardiomyopa-thy. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Herein we report a novel mechanism of Nrf2-mediated myocardial damage in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Global Nrf2 knockout (Nrf2KO) hardly affected the onset of cardiac dysfunction induced by T1D but slowed down its progression in mice independent of sex. In addition, Nrf2KO inhibited cardiac pathological remodeling, apo-ptosis, and oxidative stress associated with both onset and advancement of cardiac dysfunction in T1D. Such Nrf2-mediated progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy was confirmed by a cardiomyocyte-restricted (CR) Nrf2 transgenic approach in mice. Moreover, cardiac autoph-agy inhibition via CR knockout of autophagy-related 5 gene (CR-Atg5KO) led to early onset and accelerated development of cardiomyopathy in T1D, and CR-Atg5KO– induced adverse phenotypes were rescued by additional Nrf2KO. Mechanistically, chronic T1D leads to glucolipo-toxicity inhibiting autolysosome efflux, which in turn inten-sifies Nrf2-driven transcription to fuel lipid peroxidation while inactivating Nrf2-mediated antioxidant defense and impairing Nrf2-coordinated iron metabolism, thereby leading to ferroptosis in cardiomyocytes. These results demonstrate that diabetes over time causes autophagy deficiency, which turns off Nrf2-mediated defense while switching on an Nrf2-operated pathological program to-ward ferroptosis in cardiomyocytes, thereby worsening the progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2720-2734
Number of pages15
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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