FoxO1 is required for physiological cardiac hypertrophy induced by exercise but not by constitutively active PI3K

Kate L. Weeks, Yow Keat Tham, Suzan G. Yildiz, Yonali Alexander, Daniel G. Donner, Helen Kiriazis, Claudia A. Harmawan, Amy Hsu, Bianca C. Bernardo, Aya Matsumoto, Ronald A. DePinho, E. Dale Abel, Elizabeth A. Woodcock, Julie R. McMullen

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110a (PI3K) are critical regulators of exercise-induced physiological cardiac hypertrophy and provide protection in experimental models of pathological remodeling and heart failure. Forkhead box class O1 (FoxO1) is a transcription factor that regulates cardiomyocyte hypertrophy downstream of IGF1R/ PI3K activation in vitro, but its role in physiological hypertrophy in vivo was unknown. We generated cardiomyocyte-specific FoxO1 knockout (cKO) mice and assessed the phenotype under basal conditions and settings of physiological hypertrophy induced by 1) swim training or 2) cardiac-specific transgenic expression of constitutively active PI3K (caPI3KTg þ ). Under basal conditions, male and female cKO mice displayed mild interstitial fibrosis compared with control (CON) littermates, but no other signs of cardiac pathology were present. In response to exercise training, female CON mice displayed an increase (21%) in heart weight normalized to tibia length vs. untrained mice. Exercise-induced hypertrophy was blunted in cKO mice. Exercise increased cardiac Akt phosphorylation and IGF1R expression but was comparable between genotypes. However, differences in Foxo3a, Hsp70, and autophagy markers were identified in hearts of exercised cKO mice. Deletion of FoxO1 did not reduce cardiac hypertrophy in male or female caPI3KTg þ mice. Cardiac Akt and FoxO1 protein expressions were significantly reduced in hearts of caPI3KTg þ mice, which may represent a negative feedback mechanism from chronic caPI3K, and negate any further effect of reducing FoxO1 in the cKO. In summary, FoxO1 contributes to exercise-induced hypertrophy. This has important implications when one is considering FoxO1 as a target for treating the diseased heart. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Regulators of exercise-induced physiological cardiac hypertrophy and protection are considered promising targets for the treatment of heart failure. Unlike pathological hypertrophy, the transcriptional regulation of physiological hypertrophy has remained largely elusive. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that the transcription factor FoxO1 is a critical mediator of exercise-induced cardiac hypertrophy. Given that exercise-induced hypertrophy is protective, this finding has important implications when one is considering FoxO1 as a target for treating the diseased heart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1470-H1485
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Cardiac hypertrophy
  • Exercise
  • Forkhead box protein
  • FoxO1
  • Heart disease

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