Introduction Chronic left ventricular (LV) pressure overload causes relative ischemia with resultant LV dysfunction. We have recently demonstrated that low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) improves myocardial ischemia in a pig model of chronic myocardial ischemia through enhanced myocardial angiogenesis. In the present study, we thus examined whether LIPUS also ameliorates contractile dysfunction in LV pressure-overloaded hearts. Methods and results Chronic LV pressure overload was induced with transverse aortic constriction (TAC) in mice. LIPUS was applied to the whole heart three times in the first week after TAC and was repeated once a week for 7 weeks thereafter (n = 22). Animals in the control groups received the sham treatment without LIPUS (n = 23). At 8 weeks after TAC, LV fractional shortening was depressed in the TAC-Control group, which was significantly ameliorated in the TAC-LIPUS group (30.4±0.5 vs. 36.2±3.8%, P<0.05). Capillary density was higher and perivascular fibrosis was less in the LV in the TAC-LIPUS group than in the TAC-Control group. Myocardial relative ischemia evaluated with hypoxyprobe was noted in the TAC-Control group, which was significantly attenuated in the TAC-LIPUS group. In the TAC-LIPUS group, as compared with the control group, mRNA expressions of BNP and collagen III were significantly lower (both P<0.05) and protein expressions of VEGF and eNOS were significantly up-regulated associated with Akt activation (all P<0.05). No adverse effect related to the LIPUS therapy was noted. Conclusions These results indicate that the LIPUS therapy ameliorates contractile dysfunction in chronically pressure-overloaded hearts through enhanced myocardial angiogenesis and attenuated perivascular fibrosis. Thus, the LIPUS therapy may be a promising, non-invasive treatment for cardiac dysfunction due to chronic pressure overload.
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