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Cardiac glycosides cause selective cytotoxicity in human macrophages and ameliorate white adipose tissue homeostasis

By Antoni Olona, Charlotte Hateley, Ana Guerrero, Jeong-Hun Ko, Michael R. Johnson, David Thomas, Jesus Gil, Jacques Behmoaras

Posted 18 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.18.293415

Cardiac glycosides (CGs) inhibit the Na+,K+-ATPase and are widely prescribed medicines for chronic heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Recently, CGs have been described to induce inflammasome activation in human macrophages, suggesting a cytotoxicity that remains to be elucidated in tissues. Here we show that human monocyte-derived macrophages (hMDMs) undergo cell death following incubation with nanomolar concentrations of CGs, and in particular with ouabain (IC50=50 nM). The ouabain-induced cell death is more efficient in hMDMs compared to non-adherent PBMC populations and is through on-target inhibition of Na,K-ATPAse activity, as it causes an intracellular depletion of K+, while inducing accumulation of Na+ and Ca2+ levels. Consistently, the cell-death caused by these ion imbalances can be rescued by addition of potassium chloride in hMDMs. Strikingly, white adipose tissue (WAT) explants from morbidly obese patients cultured with nanomolar concentrations of ouabain causes depletion of macrophages, decreases type VI collagen levels, and ameliorates insulin-sensitivity ex vivo . These results suggest that the usage of nanomolar concentration of CGs can be an attractive therapeutic avenue in metabolic syndrome characterised by pathogenic infiltration and activation of macrophages. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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