OBJECTIVE: The multifunctional Ca2+-binding protein S100A4 (also known as Mts1 and Fsp1) is involved in fibrosis and tissue remodeling in several diseases including cancer, kidney fibrosis, central nervous system injury, and pulmonary vascular disease. We previously reported that S100A4 mRNA expression was increased in hypertrophic rat hearts and that it has pro-cardiomyogenic effects in embryonic stem cell-derived embryoid bodies. We therefore hypothesized that S100A4 could play a supportive role in the injured heart.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Here we verify by quantitative real-time PCR and immunoblotting that S100A4 mRNA and protein is upregulated in hypertrophic rat and human hearts and show by way of confocal microscopy that S100A4 protein, but not mRNA, appears in cardiac myocytes only in the border zone after an acute ischemic event in rat and human hearts. In normal rat and human hearts, S100A4 expression primarily colocalizes with markers of fibroblasts. In hypertrophy elicited by aortic banding/stenosis or myocardial infarction, this expression is increased. Moreover, invading macrophages and leucocytes stain strongly for S100A4, further increasing cardiac levels of S100A4 protein after injury. Promisingly, recombinant S100A4 protein elicited a robust hypertrophic response and increased the number of viable cells in cardiac myocyte cultures by inhibiting apoptosis. We also found that ERK1/2 activation was necessary for both the hypertrophy and survival effects of S100A4 in vitro.
CONCLUSIONS: Along with proposed angiogenic and cell motility stimulating effects of S100A4, these findings suggest that S100A4 can act as a novel cardiac growth and survival factor and may have regenerative effects in injured myocardium.