Zonisamide attenuates pressure overload-induced myocardial hypertrophy in mice through proteasome inhibition

Qian Wu1, Wan-jie Liu1, Xin-yu Ma1, Ji-shuo Chang1, Xiao-ya Zhao1, Ying-hua Liu1, Xi-yong Yu1
1 Department of Pharmacology, Key Laboratory of Molecular Target & Clinical Pharmacology and the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences & The Fifth Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou 511436, China
Correspondence to: Ying-hua Liu:, Xi-yong Yu:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-023-01191-7
Received: 9 July 2023
Accepted: 2 November 2023
Advance online: 14 December 2023


Myocardial hypertrophy is a pathological thickening of the myocardium which ultimately results in heart failure. We previously reported that zonisamide, an antiepileptic drug, attenuated pressure overload-caused myocardial hypertrophy and diabetic cardiomyopathy in murine models. In addition, we have found that the inhibition of proteasome activates glycogen synthesis kinase 3 (GSK-3) thus alleviates myocardial hypertrophy, which is an important anti-hypertrophic strategy. In this study, we investigated whether zonisamide prevented pressure overload-caused myocardial hypertrophy through suppressing proteasome. Pressure overload-caused myocardial hypertrophy was induced in mice by trans-aortic constriction (TAC) surgery. Two days after the surgery, the mice were administered zonisamide (10, 20, 40 mg·kg−1·d−1, i.g.) for four weeks. We showed that zonisamide administration significantly mitigated impaired cardiac function. Furthermore, zonisamide administration significantly inhibited proteasome activity as well as the expression levels of proteasome subunit beta types (PSMB) of the 20 S proteasome (PSMB1, PSMB2 and PSMB5) and proteasome-regulated particles (RPT) of the 19 S proteasome (RPT1, RPT4) in heart tissues of TAC mice. In primary neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs), zonisamide (0.3 μM) prevented myocardial hypertrophy triggered by angiotensin II (Ang II), and significantly inhibited proteasome activity, proteasome subunits and proteasome-regulated particles. In Ang II-treated NRCMs, we found that 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid (18α-GA, 2 mg/ml), a proteasome inducer, eliminated the protective effects of zonisamide against myocardial hypertrophy and proteasome. Moreover, zonisamide treatment activated GSK-3 through inhibiting the phosphorylated AKT (protein kinase B, PKB) and phosphorylated liver kinase B1/AMP-activated protein kinase (LKB1/AMPKα), the upstream of GSK-3. Zonisamide treatment also inhibited GSK-3’s downstream signaling proteins, including extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and GATA binding protein 4 (GATA4), both being the hypertrophic factors. Collectively, this study highlights the potential of zonisamide as a new therapeutic agent for myocardial hypertrophy, as it shows potent anti-hypertrophic potential through the suppression of proteasome.

Keywords: myocardial hypertrophy; pressure overload; zonisamide; proteasome; glycogen synthesis kinase 3 (GSK-3); neonatal rat cardiomyocytes; angiotensin II

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