Chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCM) is a major cause for heart failure related mortality and morbidity of humans. Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent, however, clinical disease does not correlate with parasite presence, and host factors are likely involved in activation and/or sustenance of CCM pathogenesis. In recent studies, we have shown that chagasic animals and patients sustain mitochondrial dysfunction of respiratory chain. At functional level, mitochondrial damage resulted in a decrease in energy output and an increase in oxidative stress both of which can play a pivotal role in cardiovascular homeostasis associated with CCM. Thus, in this proposal, we plan to investigate the critical importance of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in human Chagas disease severity. Our central hypothesis is that infection by T. cruzi elicits mt damage in cardiomyocytes that results in a continuing cycle of respiratory chain inefficiency and ROS formation. These ROS cause cellular oxidative damage, and lead to the development of progressive cardiac pathology and impaired LV function in human chagasic patients. To test this hypothesis, we will conduct a cross-sectional study with following specific aims: 1) Identify the molecular, biochemical, and functional changes in mt that cause impaired metabolic activity and constitute a risk factor in human Chagas disease, 2) Determine how ROS-induced oxidative cellular damage enhance the patients'risk to develop clinical symptoms of Chagas disease, and 3) Identify the molecular pathways that are affected by mt and cellular oxidative stress and contribute to myocardial structural and functional alterations during progressive CCM. Samples from cardiomyopathy patients of other etiologies and healthy subjects will be analyzed for comparison purposes. Upon completion of the proposed studies, we anticipate demonstrating the importance of oxidative stress in instigation and/or sustenance of pathological processes (mt metabolic alterations, oxidative processes, cardiac remodeling) during CCM development. The comparative analysis with cardiomyopathy patients of other etiologies would provide insight into the mechanisms of cardiomyopathy development, and identify whether inhibiting oxidative responses would be useful in preventing cardiac damage. We anticipate identifying novel targets for the development of combinatorial therapies for preserving the cardiomyocyte composition and heart function that will be useful in controlling the onset/progression of chronic cardiomyopathy. We will conduct these studies in collaboration with multiple national and international collaborators, and as a result, our collaborators at the Argentina study site will gain training in cutting edge molecular and biochemical approaches, thus, enhancing their research capabilities in cardiovascular infectious diseases.
The proposed studies will identify the oxidative stress response pathways and networks that enhance the susceptibility to or progression of chagasic (and other) cardiomyopathies. We anticipate identifying novel targets for prevention and treatment of Chagas disease.
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