Anthracyclines are key chemotherapeutic agents used in various adult and pediatric cancers, however, their clinical use is limited due to possible congestive heart failure (HF) caused by acute and irreversible cardiotoxicity. Currently, there is no method to predict the future development of the HF in these patients. In order to identify early biomarkers to predict anthracycline cardiotoxicity in long-term survivors of childhood cancer, this longitudinal study aimed to analyze early and late regional myocardial anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity, related to cardiac myocytes dysfunction, in a juvenile rat model. Young male Wistar rats (4 weeks-old) were treated with different cumulative doses of doxorubicin (7.5, 10 or 12.5 mg/kg) or NaCl (0.9%) once a week for 6 weeks by intravenous injection. Cardiac function was evaluated by conventional (left ventricular ejection fraction, LVEF) and regional two-dimensional (2D) speckle tracking echocardiography over the 4 months after the last injection. The animals were assigned to preserved (pEF) or reduced EF (rEF) groups at the end of the protocol and were compared to controls. We observed a preferential contractile dysfunction of the base of the heart, further altered in the posterior segment, even in pEF group. The first regional alterations appeared 1 month after chemotherapy. Functional investigation of cardiomyocytes isolated from the LV base 1 month after doxorubicin treatment showed that early contractile alterations were associated with both decreased myofilament Ca sensitivity and length-dependent activation. Changes in post-translational modifications (phosphorylation; S-glutathionylation) and protein degradation of the cardiac myosin binding protein-C may contribute to these alterations. Our data suggest that screening of the contractile defaults of the base of the heart by regional 2D strain echocardiography is useful to detect subclinical myocardial dysfunction prior to the development of delayed anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy in pediatric onco-cardiology.
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