Beneficial effect of voluntary physical exercise in Plakophilin2 transgenic mice


  • K.P. Hammer
  • J. Mustroph
  • T. Stauber
  • W. Birchmeier
  • S. Wagner
  • L.S. Maier


  • PLoS ONE


  • PLoS ONE 16 (6): e0252649


  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is a hereditary, rare disease with an increased risk for sudden cardiac death. The disease-causing mutations are located within the desmosomal complex and the highest incidence is found in plakophilin2. However, there are other factors playing a role for the disease progression unrelated to the genotype such as inflammation or exercise. Competitive sports have been identified as risk factor, but the type and extend of physical activity as cofactor for arrhythmogenesis remains under debate. We thus studied the effect of light voluntary exercise on cardiac health in a mouse model. Mice with a heterozygous PKP2 loss-of-function mutation were given the option to exercise in a running wheel which was monitored 24 h/d. We analyzed structural and functional development in vivo by echocardiography which revealed that neither the genotype nor the exercise caused any significant structural changes. Ejection fraction and fractional shortening were not influenced by the genotype itself, but exercise did cause a drop in both parameters after 8 weeks, which returned to normal after 16 weeks of training. The electrophysiological analysis revealed that the arrhythmogenic potential was slightly higher in heterozygous animals (50% vs 18% in wt littermates) and that an additional stressor (isoprenaline) did not lead to an increase of arrhythmogenic events pre run or after 8 weeks of running but the vulnerability was increased after 16 weeks. Exercise-induced alterations in Ca handling and contractility of isolated myocytes were mostly abolished in heterozygous animals. No fibrofatty replacements or rearrangement of gap junctions could be observed. Taken together we could show that light voluntary exercise can cause a transient aggravation of the mutation-induced phenotype which is abolished after long term exercise indicating a beneficial effect of long term light exercise.