Tetrahydroberberrubine retards heart aging in mice by promoting PHB2-mediated mitophagy
Heart aging is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction, which in turn induces a variety of cardiovascular diseases. There is still no therapeutic drug to ameliorate cardiac abnormities in heart aging. In this study we investigated the protective effects of berberine (BBR) and its derivative tetrahydroberberrubine (THBru) against heart aging process. Heart aging was induced in mice by injection of D-galactose (D-gal, 120 mg · kg−1 · d−1, sc.) for 12 weeks. Meanwhile the mice were orally treated with berberine (50 mg · kg−1 · d−1) or THBru (25, 50 mg · kg−1 · d−1) for 12 weeks. We showed that BBR and THBru treatment significantly mitigated diastolic dysfunction and cardiac remodeling in D-gal-induced aging mice. Furthermore, treatment with BBR (40 μM) and THBru (20, 40 μM) inhibited D-gal-induced senescence in primary neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes in vitro. Overall, THBru exhibited higher efficacy than BBR at the same dose. We found that the levels of mitophagy were significantly decreased during the aging process in vivo and in vitro, THBru and BBR promoted mitophagy with different potencies. We demonstrated that the mitophagy-inducing effects of THBru resulted from increased mRNA stability of prohibitin 2 (PHB2), a pivotal factor during mitophagy, thereby upregulating PHB2 protein expression. Knockdown of PHB2 effectively reversed the antisenescence effects of THBru in D-gal-treated cardiomyocytes. On the contrary, overexpression of PHB2 promoted mitophagy and retarded cardiomyocyte senescence, as THBru did. In conclusion, this study identifies THBru as a potent antiaging medicine that induces PHB2-mediated mitophagy and suggests its clinical application prospects.