The heart has two major modalities of hypertrophy in response to hemodynamic loads: concentric and eccentric hypertrophy caused by pressure and volume overload (VO), respectively. However, the molecular mechanism of eccentric hypertrophy remains poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the Akt-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) axis is a pivotal regulator of eccentric hypertrophy during VO. While mTOR in the heart was activated in a left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP)-dependent manner, mTOR inhibition suppressed eccentric hypertrophy and induced cardiac atrophy even under VO. Notably, Akt was ubiquitinated and phosphorylated in response to VO, and blocking the recruitment of Akt to the membrane completely abolished mTOR activation. Various growth factors were upregulated during VO, suggesting that these might be involved in Akt-mTOR activation. Furthermore, the rate of eccentric hypertrophy progression was proportional to mTOR activity, which allowed accurate estimation of eccentric hypertrophy by time-integration of mTOR activity. These results suggested that the Akt-mTOR axis plays a pivotal role in eccentric hypertrophy, and mTOR activity quantitatively determines the rate of eccentric hypertrophy progression. As eccentric hypertrophy is an inherent system of the heart for regulating cardiac output and LVEDP, our findings provide a new mechanistic insight into the adaptive mechanism of the heart.
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