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Dihydroartemisinin alleviates doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and ferroptosis by activating Nrf2 and regulating autophagy.

Although the use of Doxorubicin (Dox) is extensive in the treatment of malignant tumor, the toxic effects of Dox on the heart can cause myocardial injury. Therefore, it is necessary to find an alternative drug to alleviate the Dox-induced cardiotoxicity. Dihydroartemisinin (DHA) is a semisynthetic derivative of artemisinin, which is an active ingredient of Artemisia annua. The study investigates the effects of DHA on doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and ferroptosis, which are related to the activation of Nrf2 and the regulation of autophagy. Different concentrations of DHA were administered by gavage for 4 weeks in mice. H9c2 cells were pretreated with different concentrations of DHA for 24 h in vitro. The mechanism of DHA treatment was explored through echocardiography, biochemical analysis, real-time quantitative PCR, western blotting analysis, ROS/DHE staining, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence. In vivo, DHA markedly relieved Dox-induced cardiac dysfunction, attenuated oxidative stress, alleviated cardiomyocyte ferroptosis, activated Nrf2, promoted autophagy, and improved the function of lysosomes. In vitro, DHA attenuated oxidative stress and cardiomyocyte ferroptosis, activated Nrf2, promoted clearance of autophagosomes, and reduced lysosomal destruction. The changes of ferroptosis and Nrf2 depend on selective degradation of keap1 and recovery of lysosome. We found for the first time that DHA could protect the heart from the toxic effects of Dox-induced cardiotoxicity. In addition, DHA significantly alleviates Dox-induced ferroptosis through the clearance of autophagosomes, including the selective degradation of keap1 and the recovery of lysosomes.

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