Role of AMP-activated protein kinase in healthy and diseased hearts

Vernon W Dolinsky, Jason R B Dyck
American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology 2006, 291 (6): H2557-69
The heart is capable of utilizing a variety of substrates to produce the necessary ATP for cardiac function. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has emerged as a key regulator of cellular energy homeostasis and coordinates multiple catabolic and anabolic pathways in the heart. During times of acute metabolic stresses, cardiac AMPK activation seems to be primarily involved in increasing energy-generating pathways to maintain or restore intracellular ATP levels. In acute situations such as mild ischemia or short durations of severe ischemia, activation of cardiac AMPK appears to be necessary for cardiac myocyte function and survival by stimulating ATP generation via increased glycolysis and accelerated fatty acid oxidation. Whereas AMPK activation may be essential for adaptation of cardiac energy metabolism to acute and/or minor metabolic stresses, it is unknown whether AMPK activation becomes maladaptive in certain chronic disease states and/or extreme energetic stresses. However, alterations in cardiac AMPK activity are associated with a number of cardiovascular-related diseases such as pathological cardiac hypertrophy, myocardial ischemia, glycogen storage cardiomyopathy, and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, suggesting the possibility of a maladaptive role. Although the precise role AMPK plays in the diseased heart is still in question, it is clear that AMPK is a major regulator of cardiac energy metabolism. The consequences of alterations in AMPK activity and subsequent cardiac energy metabolism in the healthy and the diseased heart will be discussed.

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