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AIMS: Recent clinical trials indicate that sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors improve cardiovascular outcomes in heart failure patients, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We explored the direct effects of canagliflozin, an SGLT2 inhibitor with mild SGLT1 inhibitory effects, on myocardial redox signalling in humans. METHODS AND RESULTS: Study 1 included 364 patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Right atrial appendage biopsies were harvested to quantify superoxide (O2.-) sources and the expression of inflammation, fibrosis, and myocardial stretch genes. In Study 2, atrial tissue from 51 patients was used ex vivo to study the direct effects of canagliflozin on NADPH oxidase activity and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) uncoupling. Differentiated H9C2 and primary human cardiomyocytes (hCM) were used to further characterize the underlying mechanisms (Study 3). SGLT1 was abundantly expressed in human atrial tissue and hCM, contrary to SGLT2. Myocardial SGLT1 expression was positively associated with O2.- production and pro-fibrotic, pro-inflammatory, and wall stretch gene expression. Canagliflozin reduced NADPH oxidase activity via AMP kinase (AMPK)/Rac1signalling and improved NOS coupling via increased tetrahydrobiopterin bioavailability ex vivo and in vitro. These were attenuated by knocking down SGLT1 in hCM. Canagliflozin had striking ex vivo transcriptomic effects on myocardial redox signalling, suppressing apoptotic and inflammatory pathways in hCM. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate for the first time that canagliflozin suppresses myocardial NADPH oxidase activity and improves NOS coupling via SGLT1/AMPK/Rac1 signalling, leading to global anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects in the human myocardium. These findings reveal a novel mechanism contributing to the beneficial cardiac effects of canagliflozin.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Heart J

Publication Date



AMPK, Myocardial redox state, NADPH oxidase activity, NOS coupling, SGLT1, SGLT2 inhibitor