Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Heinrich Taegtmeyer, M.D., D.Phil.

Committee Member

Michael Gambello, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Teresa Davis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Russell Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sandeep Agarwal, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Aarif Khakoo, M.D., M.B.A.


When subjected to increased workload, the heart responds metabolically by increasing its reliance on glucose and structurally by increasing the size of myocytes. Whether changes in metabolism regulate the structural remodeling process is unknown. A likely candidate for a link between metabolism and growth in the heart is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which couples energy and nutrient metabolism to cell growth. Recently, sustained mTOR activation has also been implicated in the development of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. We explored possible mechanisms by which acute metabolic changes in the hemodynamically stressed heart regulate mTOR activation, ER stress and cardiac function in the ex vivo isolated working rat heart. Doubling the heart’s workload acutely increased rates of glucose uptake beyond rates of glucose oxidation. The concomitant increase in glucose 6-phosphate (G6P) was associated with mTOR activation, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and impaired contractile function. Both rapamycin and metformin restored glycolytic homeostasis, relieved ER stress and rescued contractile function. G6P and ER stress were also downregulated with mechanical unloading of failing human hearts. Taken together, the data support the hypothesis that metabolic remodeling precedes, triggers, and sustains structural remodeling of the heart and implicate a critical role for G6P in load-induced contractile dysfunction, mTOR activation and ER stress. In general terms, the intermediary metabolism of energy providing substrates provides signals for the onset and progression of hypertrophy and heart failure.


cardiac metabolism, mTOR, endoplasmic reticulum stress, hypertrophy, glucose



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