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Exogenous testosterone alleviates cardiac fibrosis and apoptosis via Gas6/Axl pathway in the senescent mice.
Chen FF1, Song FQ2, Chen YQ3, Wang ZH4, Li YH5, Liu MH6, Li Y1, Song M1, Zhang W1, Zhao J7, Zhong M8.
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Androgen has been implicated in aging-related cardiac remodeling, but its precise role in aging heart remains controversial. We aimed to investigate the role of testosterone in the development of aging-related cardiac remodeling and the mechanisms involved.

Wild type and Axl knockout mice (Axl-/-) were randomized into three groups: the young group (n = 30, 3 months old), the aging group (n = 30, 18 months old), the testosterone undecanoate treatment group (TU, n = 30, 18 months old). Mice in the TU group were given testosterone undecanoate (39 mg/kg) by subcutaneous injection on the back at fifteen-months-old, once a month, a total of three times. The old group received solvent reagent (corn oil) by the same method.

The aging mice exhibited a decrease in serum testosterone, and Gas6 levels and an increase in apoptosis, and manifested cardiac fibrosis. Testosterone injection to wild type mice increased the levels of testosterone and Gas6 in serum and decreased cardiac apoptosis and fibrosis. Axl-/-mice receiving testosterone injection exhibited no obvious improvement in cardiac remodeling although the levels of testosterone and Gas6 in serum elevated.

These data indicated that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) alleviates cardiac fibrosis and apoptosis, at least in part by enhancing Gas6 expression. Moreover, deletion of Axl disables testosterone, which indicated that Axl is an important downstream regulator of testosterone. TRT would improve aging-related cardiac remolding via Gas6/Axl signaling pathway, implicating its therapeutic potential to treat aging-related heart disease.