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Empagliflozin restores cardiac metabolic flexibility in diet-induced obese C57BL6/J mice


Sodium-glucose co-transporter type 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor therapy to treat type 2 diabetes unexpectedly reduced all-cause mortality and hospitalization due to heart failure in several large-scale clinical trials, and has since been shown to produce similar cardiovascular disease-protective effects in patients without diabetes. How SGLT2 inhibitor therapy improves cardiovascular disease outcomes remains incompletely understood. Metabolic flexibility refers to the ability of a cell or organ to adjust its use of metabolic substrates, such as glucose or fatty acids, in response to physiological or pathophysiological conditions, and is a feature of a healthy heart that may be lost during diabetic cardiomyopathy and in the failing heart. We therefore undertook studies to determine the effects of SGLT2 inhibitor therapy on cardiac metabolic flexibility in vivo in obese, insulin resistant mice using a [U13C]-glucose infusion during fasting and hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. Relative rates of cardiac glucose versus fatty acid use during fasting were unaffected by EMPA, whereas insulin-stimulated rates of glucose use were significantly increased by EMPA, alongside significant improvements in cardiac insulin signaling. These metabolic effects of EMPA were associated with reduced cardiac hypertrophy and protection from ischemia. These observations suggest that the cardiovascular disease-protective effects of SGLT2 inhibitors may in part be explained by beneficial effects on cardiac metabolic substrate selection.



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