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The NF-κB Subunit c-Rel Stimulates Cardiac Hypertrophy and Fibrosis

Lookup NU author(s): Silvia Gaspar Pereira, Dr Nicola Fullard, Aidan Maxwell, Dr Lindsay Murphy, Dr Ralf Bauer, Professor Jelena Mann, Professor Derek Mann, Professor Fiona OakleyORCiD


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Cardiac remodeling and hypertrophy are the pathological consequences of cardiovascular disease and are correlated with its associated mortality. Activity of the transcription factor NF-kappa B is increased in the diseased heart; however, our present understanding of how the individual subunits contribute to cardiovascular disease is limited. We assign a new role for the c-Rel subunit as a stimulator of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. We discovered that c-Rel-deficient mice have smaller hearts at birth, as well as during adult-hood, and are protected from developing cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis after chronic angiotensin infusion. Results of both gene expression and cross-linked chromatin immunoprecipitation assay analyses identified transcriptional activators of hypertrophy, myocyte enhancer family, Gata4, and Tbx proteins as Rel gene targets. We suggest that the p50 subunit could limit the prohypertrophic actions of c-Rel in the normal heart, because p50 overexpression in H9c2 cells repressed c-Rel levels and the absence of cardiac p50 was associated with increases in both c-Rel levels and cardiac hypertrophy. We report for the first time that c-Rel is highly expressed and confined to the nuclei of diseased adult human hearts but is restricted to the cytoplasm of normal cardiac tissues. We conclude that c-Rel-dependent signaling is critical for both cardiac remodeling and hypertrophy. Targeting its activities could offer a novel therapeutic strategy to limit the effects of cardiac disease. (Am J Pathol 2012, 180:929-939; DOI. 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.11.007)

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gaspar-Pereira S, Fullard N, Townsend PA, Banks PS, Ellis EL, Fox C, Maxwell AG, Murphy LB, Kirk A, Bauer R, Caamaño JH, Figg N, Foo RS, Mann J, Mann DA, Oakley F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Pathology

Year: 2012

Volume: 180

Issue: 3

Pages: 929-939

Print publication date: 30/12/2011

ISSN (print): 0002-9440

ISSN (electronic): 1525-2191

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.11.007


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust
European Union
Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust
60900535Medical Research Council
FS/07/021British Heart Foundation
PG/08/051/25141British Heart Foundation