The anti-cancer drug dabrafenib is not cardiotoxic and inhibits cardiac remodelling and fibrosis in a murine model of hypertension.
Meijles DN., Cull JJ., Cooper STE., Markou T., Hardyman MA., Fuller SJ., Alharbi HO., Haines ZHR., Alcantara-Alonso V., Glennon PE., Sheppard MN., Sugden PH., Clerk A.
Raf kinases signal via extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) to drive cell division. Since activating mutations in BRAF (B-Raf proto-oncogene, serine/threonine kinase) are highly oncogenic, BRAF inhibitors including dabrafenib have been developed for cancer. Inhibitors of ERK1/2 signalling used for cancer are cardiotoxic in some patients, raising the question of whether dabrafenib is cardiotoxic. In the heart, ERK1/2 signalling promotes not only cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and is cardioprotective but also promotes fibrosis. Our hypothesis is that ERK1/2 signalling is not required in a non-stressed heart but is required for cardiac remodelling. Thus, dabrafenib may affect the heart in the context of, for example, hypertension. In experiments with cardiomyocytes, cardiac fibroblasts and perfused rat hearts, dabrafenib inhibited ERK1/2 signalling. We assessed the effects of dabrafenib (3 mg/kg/d) on male C57BL/6J mouse hearts in vivo. Dabrafenib alone had no overt effects on cardiac function/dimensions (assessed by echocardiography) or cardiac architecture. In mice treated with 0.8 mg/kg/d angiotensin II (AngII) to induce hypertension, dabrafenib inhibited ERK1/2 signalling and suppressed cardiac hypertrophy in both acute (up to 7 d) and chronic (28 d) settings, preserving ejection fraction. At the cellular level, dabrafenib inhibited AngII-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, reduced expression of hypertrophic gene markers and almost completely eliminated the increase in cardiac fibrosis both in interstitial and perivascular regions. Dabrafenib is not overtly cardiotoxic. Moreover, it inhibits maladaptive hypertrophy resulting from AngII-induced hypertension. Thus, Raf is a potential therapeutic target for hypertensive heart disease and drugs such as dabrafenib, developed for cancer, may be used for this purpose.