Doxorubicin is a widely used chemotherapeutic with deleterious cardiotoxic side effects. HDL has been shown to protect cardiomyocytes in vitro against doxorubicin-induced apoptosis. Scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1), a high-affinity HDL receptor, mediates cytoprotective signaling by HDL through Akt. Here, we assessed whether increased HDL levels protect against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in vivo and in cardiomyocytes in culture and explored the intracellular signaling mechanisms involved, particularly the role of SR-B1. Transgenic mice with increased HDL levels through overexpression of human apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1Tg/Tg) and wild-type mice (apoA1+/+) with normal HDL levels were treated repeatedly with doxorubicin. After treatment, apoA1+/+mice displayed cardiac dysfunction, as evidenced by reduced left ventricular end-systolic pressure and +dP/d t, and histological analysis revealed cardiomyocyte atrophy and increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis after doxorubicin treatment. In contrast, apoA1Tg/Tgmice were protected against doxorubicin-induced cardiac dysfunction and cardiomyocyte atrophy and apoptosis. When SR-B1 was knocked out, however, overexpression of apoA1 did not protect against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. Using primary neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes and human immortalized ventricular cardiomyocytes in combination with genetic knockout, inhibitors, or siRNA-mediated knockdown, we demonstrated that SR-B1 is required for HDL-mediated protection of cardiomyocytes against doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in vitro via a pathway involving phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and Akt1/2. Our findings provide proof of concept that raising apoA1 to supraphysiological levels can dramatically protect against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity via a pathway that is mediated by SR-B1 and involves Akt1/2 activation in cardiomyocytes.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We have identified an important role for the scavenger receptor class B type 1 in facilitating high-density lipoprotein-mediated protection of cardiomyocytes against stress-induced apoptosis and shown that increasing plasma high-density lipoprotein protects against the deleterious side effects of the chemotherapeutic and cardiotoxic drug doxorubicin.