Exercise-induced circular RNA circUtrn is required for cardiac physiological hypertrophy and prevents myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury

Lijun Wang 1 2, Jingyi Feng 1 2, Xing Feng 1 2, Danni Meng 1 2, Xuan Zhao 1 2, Jiaqi Wang 1 2, Pujiao Yu 3, Gui-E Xu 1 2, Meiyu Hu 1 2, Tianhui Wang 1 2, H Immo Lehmann 4, Guoping Li 4, Joost P G Sluijter 5 6, Junjie Xiao 1 2

Published: 1 November 2023


Regular exercise training benefits cardiovascular health and effectively reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) play important roles in cardiac pathophysiology. However, the role of circRNAs in response to exercise training and biological mechanisms responsible for exercise-induced cardiac protection remain largely unknown.

Methods and results

RNA sequencing was used to profile circRNA expression in adult mouse cardiomyocytes that were isolated from mice with or without exercise training. Exercise-induced circRNA circUtrn was significantly increased in swimming-trained adult mouse cardiomyocytes. In vivo, circUtrn was found to be required for exercise-induced physiological cardiac hypertrophy. circUtrn inhibition abolished the protective effects of exercise on myocardial ischaemia–reperfusion remodelling. circUtrn overexpression prevented myocardial ischaemia–reperfusion-induced acute injury and pathological cardiac remodelling. In vitro, overexpression of circUtrn promoted H9 human embryonic stem cell–induced cardiomyocyte growth and survival via protein phosphatase 5 (PP5). Mechanistically, circUtrn directly bound to PP5 and regulated the stability of PP5 in a ubiquitin–proteasome-dependent manner. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α–dependent splicing factor SF3B1 acted as an upstream regulator of circUtrn in cardiomyocytes.


The circRNA circUtrn is upregulated upon exercise training in the heart. Overexpression of circUtrn can prevent myocardial I/R-induced injury and pathological cardiac remodelling.

Full Access Link: Cardiovascular Research