Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) play crucial roles in pathogenesis of doxorubicin (DOX)-induced cardiomyopathy. Their activities are regulated by intracellular Ca2+. We hypothesized that blockade of L-type Ca2+ channel (LTCC) could attenuate DOX-induced cardiomyopathy by regulating CaMKII and NF-κB. DOX activated CaMKII and NF-κB through their phosphorylation and increased cleaved caspase 3 in cardiomyocytes. Pharmacological blockade or gene knockdown of LTCC by nifedipine or small interfering RNA, respectively, suppressed DOX-induced phosphorylation of CaMKII and NF-κB and apoptosis in cardiomyocytes, accompanied by decreasing intracellular Ca2+ concentration. Autocamtide 2-related inhibitory peptide (AIP), a selective CaMKII inhibitor, inhibited DOX-induced phosphorylation of NF-κB and cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Inhibition of NF-κB activity by ammonium pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate (PDTC) suppressed DOX-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis. DOX-treatment (18 mg/kg via intravenous 3 injections over 1 week) increased phosphorylation of CaMKII and NF-κB in mouse hearts. Nifedipine (10 mg/kg/day) significantly suppressed DOX-induced phosphorylation of CaMKII and NF-κB and cardiomyocyte injury and apoptosis in mouse hearts. Moreover, it attenuated DOX-induced left ventricular dysfunction and dilatation. Our findings suggest that blockade of LTCC attenuates DOX-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis via suppressing intracellular Ca2+ elevation and activation of CaMKII-NF-κB pathway. LTCC blockers might be potential therapeutic agents against DOX-induced cardiomyopathy.
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