Zebrafish heart failure models for the evaluation of chemical probes and drugs
Huang, C.C., Monte, A., Cook, J.M., Kabir, M.S., and Peterson, K.P.
Heart failure is a complex disease that involves genetic, environmental, and physiological factors. As a result, current medication and treatment for heart failure produces limited efficacy, and better medication is in demand. Although mammalian models exist, simple and low-cost models will be more beneficial for drug discovery and mechanistic studies of heart failure. We previously reported that aristolochic acid (AA) caused cardiac defects in zebrafish embryos that resemble heart failure. Here, we showed that cardiac troponin T and atrial natriuretic peptide were expressed at significantly higher levels in AA-treated embryos, presumably due to cardiac hypertrophy. In addition, several human heart failure drugs could moderately attenuate the AA-induced heart failure by 10%–40%, further verifying the model for drug discovery. We then developed a drug screening assay using the AA-treated zebrafish embryos and identified three compounds. Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor (MEK-I), an inhibitor for the MEK-1/2 known to be involved in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure, showed nearly 60% heart failure attenuation. C25, a chalcone derivative, and A11, a phenolic compound, showed around 80% and 90% attenuation, respectively. Time course experiments revealed that, to obtain 50% efficacy, these compounds were required within different hours of AA treatment. Furthermore, quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed that C25, not MEK-I or A11, strongly suppressed inflammation. Finally, C25 and MEK-I, but not A11, could also rescue the doxorubicin-induced heart failure in zebrafish embryos. In summary, we have established two tractable heart failure models for drug discovery and three potential drugs have been identified that seem to attenuate heart failure by different mechanisms.