Decreased heart rate variability (HRV) is a major risk factor for sudden death and cardiovascular disease. We previously demonstrated that parasympathetic dysfunction in the heart of the Akita type 1 diabetic mouse was due to a decrease in the level of the sterol response element–binding protein (SREBP-1). Here we demonstrate that hyperactivity of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) in the atrium of the Akita mouse results in decreased SREBP-1, attenuation of parasympathetic modulation of heart rate, measured as a decrease in the high-frequency (HF) fraction of HRV in the presence of propranolol, and a decrease in expression of the G-protein coupled inward rectifying K+ (GIRK4) subunit of the acetylcholine (ACh)-activated inward-rectifying K+ channel (IKACh), the ion channel that mediates the heart rate response to parasympathetic stimulation. Treatment of atrial myocytes with the GSK3β inhibitor Kenpaullone increased levels of SREBP-1 and expression of GIRK4 and IKACh, whereas a dominant-active GSK3β mutant decreased SREBP-1 and GIRK4 expression. In Akita mice treated with GSK3β inhibitors Li+ and/or CHIR-99021, Li+ increased IKACh, and Li+ and CHIR-99021 both partially reversed the decrease in HF fraction while increasing GIRK4 and SREBP-1 expression. These data support the conclusion that increased GSK3β activity in the type 1 diabetic heart plays a critical role in parasympathetic dysfunction through an effect on SREBP-1, supporting GSK3β as a new therapeutic target for diabetic autonomic neuropathy.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db12-1459/-/DC1.
See accompanying article, p. 1847.
- Received October 24, 2012.
- Accepted January 14, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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