The anti-microbial peptide LL-37/CRAMP levels are associated with acute heart failure and can attenuate cardiac dysfunction in multiple preclinical models of heart failure

Qiulian Zhou, Li-Long Pan, Ruicong Xue, Gehui Ni, Yi Duan, Yuzheng Bai, Chao Shi, Zhengnan Ren, Chengfei Wu, Guoping Li, Birgitta Agerberth, Joost PG Sluijter, Jia Sun, and Junjie Xiao

Published: 15/05/2020


Rationale: Biomarkers for the diagnosis of heart failure (HF) are clinically essential. Circulating antimicrobial peptides LL-37 has emerged as a novel biomarker in cardiovascular disease, however, its relevance as a biomarker for acute HF are undetermined.

Methods: Acute HF patients were enrolled in this study and the serum levels of LL-37/CRAMP (cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide) were measured by ELISA. The receiver-operator characteristic (ROC) curve was used to determine if serum LL-37 could be a biomarker for acute HF. Mouse CRAMP (mCRAMP, mouse homolog for human LL-37) was also determined in both heart and serum samples of, transverse aortic constriction (TAC)- and isoproterenol (ISO)-induced HF mice models, and phenylephrine (PE) and angiotensin II (AngII)-induced neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes (NMCMs) hypertrophic models, both intracellular and secreted, by ELISA. The protective effects of mCRAMP were determined in TAC, ISO, and AngII-induced HF in mice while whether HF was exacerbated in AngII-infused animals were checked in mCRAMP knockout mice. The underlying mechanism for protective effects of CARMP in pathological hypertrophy was determined by using a NF-κB agonist together with rCRAMP (rat homolog for human LL-37) in AngII or PE treated neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs).

Results: Serum levels of LL-37 were significantly decreased in acute HF patients (area under the curve (AUC) of 0.616), and negatively correlated with NT-proBNP. We further confirmed that mCRAMP was decreased in both heart and serum samples of TAC- and ISO-induced HF mice models. Moreover, in PE and AngII-induced NMCMs hypertrophic models, both intracellular and secreted mCRAMP levels were reduced. Functionally, mCRAMP could attenuate TAC, ISO, and AngII-induced HF in mice while CRAMP deficiency exacerbated HF. Mechanistically, the anti-hypertrophy effects of CRAMP were mediated by NF-κB signaling.

Conclusions: Collectively, serum LL-37 is associated with acute HF and increasing CRAMP is protective against deleterious NF-κB signaling in the rodent.

Full Access Link: Theranostics