Empagliflozin Ameliorates Diastolic Dysfunction and Left Ventricular Fibrosis/Stiffness in Nondiabetic Heart Failure: A Multimodality Study

Carlos G. Santos-Gallego, Juan Antonio Requena-Ibanez, Rodolfo San Antonio, Alvaro Garcia-Ropero, Kiyotake Ishikawa, Shin Watanabe, Belen Picatoste, Ariana P. Vargas-Delgado, Eduardo J. Flores-Umanzor, Javier Sanz, Valentin Fuster, Juan J. Badimon

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Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of empagliflozin on diastolic function in a nondiabetic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) scenario and on the pathways causing diastolic dysfunction. Background: This group demonstrated that empagliflozin ameliorates adverse cardiac remodeling, enhances myocardial energetics, and improves left ventricular systolic function in a nondiabetic porcine model of HF. Whether empagliflozin also improves diastolic function remains unknown. Hypothetically, empagliflozin would improve diastolic function in HF mediated both by a reduction in interstitial myocardial fibrosis and an improvement in cardiomyocyte stiffness (titin phosphorylation). Methods: HF was induced in nondiabetic pigs by 2-h balloon occlusion of proximal left anterior descending artery. Animals were randomized to empagliflozin or placebo for 2 months. Cardiac function was evaluated with cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR), 3-dimensional echocardiography, and invasive hemodynamics. In vitro relaxation of cardiomyocytes was studied in primary culture. Myocardial samples were obtained for histological and molecular evaluation. Myocardial metabolite consumption was analyzed by simultaneous blood sampling from coronary artery and coronary sinus. Results: Despite similar initial ischemic myocardial injury, the empagliflozin group showed significantly improved diastolic function at 2 months, assessed by conventional echocardiography (higher e′ and color M-mode propagation velocity, lower E/e′ ratio, myocardial performance Tei index, isovolumic relaxation time, and left atrial size), echocardiography-derived strain imaging (strain imaging diastolic index, strain rate at isovolumic relaxation time and during early diastole, and untwisting), and CMR (higher peak filling rate, larger first filling volume). Invasive hemodynamics confirmed improved diastolic function with empagliflozin (better peak LV pressure rate of decay (–dP/dt), shorter Tau, lower end-diastolic pressure-volume relationship (EDPVR), and reduced filling pressures). Empagliflozin reduced interstitial myocardial fibrosis at the imaging, histological and molecular level. Empagliflozin improved nitric oxide signaling (endothelial nitric oxide synthetase [eNOS] activity, nitric oxide [NO] availability, cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) content, protein kinase G [PKG] signaling) and enhanced titin phosphorylation (which is responsible for cardiomyocyte stiffness). Indeed, isolated cardiomyocytes exhibited better relaxation in empagliflozin-treated animals. Myocardial consumption of glucose and ketone bodies negatively and positively correlated with diastolic function, respectively. Conclusions: Empagliflozin ameliorates diastolic function in a nondiabetic HF porcine model, mitigates histological and molecular remodeling, and reduces both left ventricle and cardiomyocyte stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-407
Number of pages15
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • SGLT2 inhibition
  • animal models
  • cardiac remodeling
  • diabetes
  • diastolic function
  • heart failure
  • myocardial metabolism


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