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Soppert, Josefin; Kraemer, Sandra; Beckers, Christian; Averdunk, Luisa; Möllmann, Julia; Denecke, Bernd; Götzenich, Andreas; Marx, Gernot; Bernhagen, Jürgen; Stoppe, Christian (2018): Soluble CD74 Reroutes MIF/CXCR4/AKT-Mediated Survival of Cardiac Myofibroblasts to Necroptosis. In: Journal of the American Heart Association, Vol. 7, No. 17, e009384
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Background: Although macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) has been demonstrated to mediate cardioprotection in ischemia/reperfusion injury and antagonize fibrotic effects through its receptor, CD74, the function of the soluble CD74 receptor ectodomain (sCD74) and its interaction with circulating MIF have not been explored in cardiac disease. Methods and Results: Cardiac fibroblasts were isolated from hearts of neonatal mice and differentiated into myofibroblasts. Co-treatment with recombinant MIF and sCD74 induced cell death (P<0.001), which was mediated by receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase (RIP) 1/RIP3-dependent necroptosis (P=0.0376). This effect was specific for cardiac fibroblasts and did not affect cardiomyocytes. Gene expression analyses using microarray and RT-qPCR technology revealed a 4-fold upregulation of several interferon-induced genes upon co-treatment of myofibroblasts with sCD74 and MIF (Ifi44: P=0.011;Irg1: P=0.022;Clec4e: P=0.011). Furthermore, Western blot analysis confirmed the role of sCD74 as a modulator of MIF signaling by diminishing MIF-mediated protein kinase B (AKT) activation (P=0.0197) and triggering p38 activation (P=0.0641). We obtained evidence that sCD74 inhibits MIF-mediated survival pathway through the C-X-C chemokine receptor 4/AKT axis, enabling the induction of CD74-dependent necroptotic processes in cardiac myofibroblasts. Preliminary clinical data revealed a lowered sCD74/MIF ratio in heart failure patients (17.47 +/- 10.09 versus 1.413 +/- 0.6244). Conclusions: These findings suggest that treatment of cardiac myofibroblasts with sCD74 and MIF induces necroptosis, offering new insights into the mechanism of myofibroblast depletion during scar maturation. Preliminary clinical data provided first evidence about a clinical relevance of the sCD74/MIF axis in heart failure, suggesting that these proteins may be a promising target to modulate cardiac remodeling and disease progression in heart failure.