During fetal heart morphogenesis, formation of the mature ventricular wall requires coordinated compaction of the inner trabecular layer and growth of the outer layer of myocardium. Arrested trabecular development has been implicated in the pathogenesis of hypertrabeculation associated with ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy. However much uncertainty still exists among clinicians concerning the physiopathology of ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, including its clinical characteristics, prognosis, classification and even the definition of hypertrabeculation. In particular, distinguishing between pathological and non-pathological subtypes of non-compaction is currently a major issue.

Here we show that deletion of the gene encoding the transcription factor Nkx2-5 at critical steps during trabecular development recapitulates pathological features of hypertrabeculation, providing the first model of ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy in adult mice. We demonstrate that excessive trabeculation due to failure of trabecular compaction during fetal development is associated with Purkinje fiber hypoplasia and subendocardial fibrosis. Longitudinal functional studies reveal that these mice present all the clinical signs of symptomatic left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, including conduction defects, strain defects and progressive heart failure. Our results, including transcriptomic analysis, suggest that pathological features of non-compaction are primarily developmental defects.

This study clarifies the origin of the pathological outcomes associated with LVNC and may provide helpful information for clinicians concerning the etiology of this rare cardiomyopathy.



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