My long-term goal is to become a physician scientist and develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for patients with cardiovascular disease. Based on my experience as a cardiologist for the past 5 years, I have become aware of major clinical shortcomings, specifically in the current pharmaceutical therapies for myocardial infarction (MI) and chronic heart failure (HF). Some evidence-based drug therapies, including β-blockers, ivabradine, and renin–angiotensin–aldosterone antagonists are difficult to apply to critical patients due to adverse side effects. Drugs that have shown efficacy in basic animal experiments have failed to show significant benefits in clinical trials. To address these problems, I moved to academia to conduct translational research. During my graduate training in the Egashira Lab, I focused on drug delivery systems (DDS) that target mitochondria in animal models of MI. I obtained advanced skills in molecular biology, mitochondrial bioenergetics, and animal surgery. I realized the importance of translational research and the great potential of DDS to overcome many clinical problems. I developed nanoparticle-mediated DDS containing cyclosporine for the treatment of patients with MI. I published a first author paper and received academic awards for my novel science. Since becoming a postdoctoral fellow in the Yang Lab, I have continued to build upon my previous training in translational research. I am currently developing an innovative therapy, namely, extracellular vesicles-mediated mitochondrial transfer for the failing heart.
Honors & Awards
Young Investigator Award Finalist, American College of Cardiology (2020)
AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association (2020-)
Stanford Dean's Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University (2019-2020)
Japan Heart Foundation / Bayer Research Grant Abroad, Japan Heart Foundation (2017-2018)
PhD, Kyushu University, Japan (2016)
MD, Showa University, Japan (2007)
Mitochondria-Rich Extracellular Vesicles From Autologous Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Restore Energetics of Ischemic Myocardium.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology
2021; 77 (8): 1073–88
Mitochondrial dysfunction results in an imbalance between energy supply and demand in a failing heart. An innovative therapy that targets the intracellular bioenergetics directly through mitochondria transfer may be necessary.The purpose of this study was to establish a preclinical proof-of-concept that extracellular vesicle (EV)-mediated transfer of autologous mitochondria and their related energy source enhance cardiac function through restoration of myocardial bioenergetics.Human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iCMs) were employed. iCM-conditioned medium was ultracentrifuged to collect mitochondria-rich EVs (M-EVs). Therapeutic effects of M-EVs were investigated using in vivo murine myocardial infarction (MI) model.Electron microscopy revealed healthy-shaped mitochondria inside M-EVs. Confocal microscopy showed that M-EV-derived mitochondria were transferred into the recipient iCMs and fused with their endogenous mitochondrial networks. Treatment with 1.0 × 108/ml M-EVs significantly restored the intracellular adenosine triphosphate production and improved contractile profiles of hypoxia-injured iCMs as early as 3 h after treatment. In contrast, isolated mitochondria that contained 300× more mitochondrial proteins than 1.0 × 108/ml M-EVs showed no effect after 24 h. M-EVs contained mitochondrial biogenesis-related messenger ribonucleic acids, including proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α, which on transfer activated mitochondrial biogenesis in the recipient iCMs at 24 h after treatment. Finally, intramyocardial injection of 1.0 × 108 M-EVs demonstrated significantly improved post-MI cardiac function through restoration of bioenergetics and mitochondrial biogenesis.M-EVs facilitated immediate transfer of their mitochondrial and nonmitochondrial cargos, contributing to improved intracellular energetics in vitro. Intramyocardial injection of M-EVs enhanced post-MI cardiac function in vivo. This therapy can be developed as a novel, precision therapeutic for mitochondria-related diseases including heart failure.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.12.060
View details for PubMedID 33632482
miR-106a-363 cluster in extracellular vesicles promotes endogenous myocardial repair via Notch3 pathway in ischemic heart injury.
Basic research in cardiology
2021; 116 (1): 19
Endogenous capability of the post-mitotic human heart holds great promise to restore the injured myocardium. Recent evidence indicates that the extracellular vesicles (EVs) regulate cardiac homeostasis and regeneration. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanism of EVs for self-repair. We isolated EVs from human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (iCMs), which were exposed to hypoxic (hEVs) and normoxic conditions (nEVs), and examined their roles in in vitro and in vivo models of cardiac injury. hEV treatment significantly improved the viability of hypoxic iCMs in vitro and cardiac function of severely injured murine myocardium in vivo. Microarray analysis of the EVs revealed significantly enriched expression of the miR-106a-363 cluster (miR cluster) in hEVs vs. nEVs. This miR cluster preserved survival and contractility of hypoxia-injured iCMs and maintained murine left-ventricular (LV) chamber size, improved LV ejection fraction, and reduced myocardial fibrosis of the injured myocardium. RNA-Seq analysis identified Jag1-Notch3-Hes1 as a target intracellular pathway of the miR cluster. Moreover, the study found that the cell cycle activator and cytokinesis genes were significantly up-regulated in the iCMs treated with miR cluster and Notch3 siRNA. Together, these results suggested that the miR cluster in the EVs stimulated cardiomyocyte cell cycle re-entry by repressing Notch3 to induce cell proliferation and augment myocardial self-repair. The miR cluster may represent an effective therapeutic approach for ischemic cardiomyopathy.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00395-021-00858-8
View details for PubMedID 33742276
Exosomes From Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Promote Autophagy for Myocardial Repair.
Journal of the American Heart Association
2020; 9 (6): e014345
Background Induced pluripotent stem cells and their differentiated cardiomyocytes (iCMs) have tremendous potential as patient-specific therapy for ischemic cardiomyopathy following myocardial infarctions, but difficulties in viable transplantation limit clinical translation. Exosomes secreted from iCMs (iCM-Ex) can be robustly collected in vitro and injected in lieu of live iCMs as a cell-free therapy for myocardial infarction. Methods and Results iCM-Ex were precipitated from iCM supernatant and characterized by protein marker expression, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and functionalized nanogold transmission electron microscopy. iCM-Ex were then used in in vitro and in vivo models of ischemic injuries. Cardiac function in vivo was evaluated by left ventricular ejection fraction and myocardial viability measurements by magnetic resonance imaging. Cardioprotective mechanisms were studied by JC-1 (tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) assay, immunohistochemistry, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, transmission electron microscopy, and immunoblotting. iCM-Ex measured 140nm and expressed CD63 and CD9. iCM and iCM-Ex microRNA profiles had significant overlap, indicating that exosomal content was reflective of the parent cell. Mice treated with iCM-Ex demonstrated significant cardiac improvement post-myocardial infarction, with significantly reduced apoptosis and fibrosis. In vitro iCM apoptosis was significantly reduced by hypoxia and exosome biogenesis inhibition and restored by treatment with iCM-Ex or rapamycin. Autophagosome production and autophagy flux was upregulated in iCM-Ex groups in vivo and in vitro. Conclusions iCM-Ex improve post-myocardial infarction cardiac function by regulating autophagy in hypoxic cardiomyoytes, enabling a cell-free, patient-specific therapy for ischemic cardiomyopathy.
View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.119.014345
View details for PubMedID 32131688
Sacubitril/Valsartan Improves Cardiac Function and Decreases Myocardial Fibrosis Via Downregulation of Exosomal miR-181a in a Rodent Chronic Myocardial Infarction Model.
Journal of the American Heart Association
Background Exosomes are small extracellular vesicles that function as intercellular messengers and effectors. Exosomal cargo contains regulatory small molecules, including miRNAs, mRNAs, lncRNAs, and small peptides that can be modulated by different pathological stimuli to the cells. One of the main mechanisms of action of drug therapy may be the altered production and/or content of the exosomes. Methods and Results We studied the effects on exosome production and content by neprilysin inhibitor/angiotensin receptor blockers, sacubitril/valsartan and valsartan alone, using human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes under normoxic and hypoxic injury model in vitro, and assessed for physiologic correlation using an ischemic myocardial injury rodent model in vivo. We demonstrated that the treatment with sacubitril/valsartan and valsartan alone resulted in the increased production of exosomes by induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in vitro in both conditions as well as in the rat plasma in vivo. Next-generation sequencing of these exosomes exhibited downregulation of the expression of rno-miR-181a in the sacubitril/valsartan treatment group. In vivo studies employing chronic rodent myocardial injury model demonstrated that miR-181a antagomir has a beneficial effect on cardiac function. Subsequently, immunohistochemical and molecular studies suggested that the downregulation of miR-181a resulted in the attenuation of myocardial fibrosis and hypertrophy, restoring the injured rodent heart after myocardial infarction. Conclusions We demonstrate that an additional mechanism of action of the pleiotropic effects of sacubitril/valsartan may be mediated by the modulation of the miRNA expression level in the exosome payload.
View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.119.015640
View details for PubMedID 32538237
Nanoparticle-Mediated Targeting of Cyclosporine A Enhances Cardioprotection Against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury Through Inhibition of Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore Opening
2016; 6: 20467
Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury limits the therapeutic effects of early reperfusion therapy for acute myocardial infarction (MI), in which mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening plays a critical role. Our aim was to determine whether poly-lactic/glycolic acid (PLGA) nanoparticle-mediated mitochondrial targeting of a molecule that inhibits mPTP opening, cyclosporine A (CsA), enhances CsA-induced cardioprotection. In an in vivo murine IR model, intravenously injected PLGA nanoparticles were located at the IR myocardium mitochondria. Treatment with nanoparticles incorporated with CsA (CsA-NP) at the onset of reperfusion enhanced cardioprotection against IR injury by CsA alone (as indicated by the reduced MI size at a lower CsA concentration) through the inhibition of mPTP opening. Left ventricular remodeling was ameliorated 28 days after IR, but the treatment did not affect inflammatory monocyte recruitment to the IR heart. In cultured rat cardiomyocytes in vitro, mitochondrial PLGA nanoparticle-targeting was observed after the addition of hydrogen peroxide, which represents oxidative stress during IR, and was prevented by CsA. CsA-NP can be developed as an effective mPTP opening inhibitor and may protect organs from IR injury.
View details for PubMedID 26861678
Simultaneous targeting of mitochondria and monocytes enhances neuroprotection against ischemia-reperfusion injury.
2020; 10 (1): 14435
Ischemia-reperfusion injury impairs the efficacy of reperfusion therapy after ischemic stroke. Cyclophilin D (CypD)-mediated openings of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) and subsequent monocyte-mediated inflammation are considered as major mechanisms of reperfusion injury. However, no medical therapies are currently available. Therefore, we have tested a hypothesis that simultaneous targeting of mPTP and inflammation confers substantial neuroprotection after cerebral ischemia-reperfusion. To address this point, we prepared CypD knockout mice, C-C chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) knockout mice and CypD/CCR2 double knockout mice. These mice were subjected to 60min transient cerebral ischemia by occluding middle cerebral arteries. Neurological deficits evaluated 3days after reperfusion were significantly attenuated in CypD/CCR2 double knockout mice as compared to wild-type mice and other single knockout mice. Then, we have prepared polymeric nanoparticles containing cyclosporine A (CsA-NPs) and pitavastatin (Pitava-NPs), targeting mPTP opening and inflammation, respectively. Simultaneous administration of CsA-NP and Pitava-NP at the time of reperfusion also decreased infarct size and attenuated neurological deficits as compared to control nanoparticles and single administration of CsA-NPs or Pitava-NPs. These results indicate that simultaneous targeting of the mPTP opening and monocyte-mediated inflammation could be a novel strategy for better neurological outcomes in patients with ischemic stroke.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-71326-x
View details for PubMedID 32879367
Meta-analysis of short- and long-term efficacy of mononuclear cell transplantation in patients with myocardial infarction.
American heart journal
2019; 220: 155–75
BACKGROUND: Mononuclear cells (MNCs) have been tested in clinical trials across multiple cardiovascular pathologies with mixed results. Major adverse cardiac events (MACE) and markers of cardiovascular capacity have been particularly challenging to interpret because of small size. This meta-analysis is aimed to assess the efficacy of MNC therapy in randomized clinical trials to identify the markers of efficiency that could influence future trial design.METHODS: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane library, and ClinicalTrials.gov were searched from inception through November 8, 2018. Changes in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and infarct size from baseline to follow-up were selected as primary outcomes. Changes in the left ventricular end-systolic volume, left ventricular end-diastolic volume, brain natriuretic peptide/N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, 6-minute walk test, New York Heart Association class, and MACE incidences were considered secondary outcomes.RESULTS: In short-term follow-up, patients treated with MNCs demonstrated a significant increase in absolute LVEF of 2.21% (95% CI 1.59-2.83; P < .001; I2 = 32%) and 6.01% (95% CI 4.45-7.57; P < .001; I2 = 0%) in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and ischemic cardiomyopathy studies, respectively. This effect was sustained in long-term follow-up. MNC therapy significantly reduced left ventricular end-systolic volume; however, infarct size, 6-minute walk test, New York Heart Association class, and MACE rates were comparable.CONCLUSIONS: MNC therapy may convey a modest but sustained increase in LVEF in ischemic cardiomyopathy patients, supporting further investigation. AMI trials, however, demonstrated minimal improvement in LVEF of unclear clinical significance, suggesting a limited role for MNC therapy in AMI.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ahj.2019.09.005
View details for PubMedID 31821904
Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Pitavastatin to Monocytes/Macrophages Inhibits Left Ventricular Remodeling After Acute Myocardial Infarction by Inhibiting Monocyte-Mediated Inflammation
INTERNATIONAL HEART JOURNAL
2017; 58 (4): 615–23
Left ventricular (LV) remodeling after myocardial infarction (MI) causes heart failure. Although medical therapies including angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors show inhibitory effects on post-infarct LV remodeling, the prognosis of patients with post-infarct heart failure is still poor. Accumulating evidence suggests that an inflammatory response is implicated in the process of post-infarct LV remodeling. Therefore, we hypothesized that anti-inflammatory therapy by nanoparticle-mediated monocyte/macrophage-targeting delivery of pitavastatin may protect the heart from post-infarct LV remodeling.Male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to permanent coronary ligation and pitavastatin-incorporating nanoparticles (Pitavastatin-NPs) were intravenously injected for 3 to 5 consecutive days. Pitavastatin-NPs were delivered to CD11b+ monocytes/macrophages, but not to cardiomyocytes. Treatment with Pitavastatin-NPs after establishment of MI attenuated post-infarct LV remodeling accompanied by a reduction of monocytes/macrophages in the heart, whereas pitavastatin solution treatment did not. Pitavastatin-NPs inhibited mobilization of monocytes from the spleen after MI. In mice after splenectomy, Pitavastatin-NPs still decreased the number of monocytes/macrophages in the infarcted heart and inhibited post-infarct LV remodeling.Nanoparticle-mediated delivery of pitavastatin to monocytes/macrophages may be a novel therapeutic strategy to protect the heart from post-infarct LV remodeling. Inhibition of monocyte mobilization from the bone marrow is one of the major mechanisms by which Pitavastatin-NPs attenuated post-infarct LV remodeling.
View details for PubMedID 28701679
Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Irbesartan Induces Cardioprotection from Myocardial Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury by Antagonizing Monocyte-Mediated Inflammation
2016; 6: 29601
Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury limits the therapeutic effect of early reperfusion therapy for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), in which the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes plays a causative role. Here we develop bioabsorbable poly-lactic/glycolic acid (PLGA) nanoparticles incorporating irbesartan, an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker with a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ agonistic effect (irbesartan-NP). In a mouse model of IR injury, intravenous PLGA nanoparticles distribute to the IR myocardium and monocytes in the blood and in the IR heart. Single intravenous treatment at the time of reperfusion with irbesartan-NP (3.0 mg kg(-1) irbesartan), but not with control nanoparticles or irbesartan solution (3.0 mg kg(-1)), inhibits the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes to the IR heart, and reduces the infarct size via PPARγ-dependent anti-inflammatory mechanisms, and ameliorates left ventricular remodeling 21 days after IR. Irbesartan-NP is a novel approach to treat myocardial IR injury in patients with AMI.
View details for PubMedID 27403534
Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Mitochondrial Division Inhibitor 1 to the Myocardium Protects the Heart From Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury Through Inhibition of Mitochondria Outer Membrane Permeabilization: A New Therapeutic Modality for Acute Myocardial Infarction
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION
2016; 5 (7)
Mitochondria-mediated cell death plays a critical role in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. We hypothesized that nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery of mitochondrial division inhibitor 1 (Mdivi1) protects hearts from IR injury through inhibition of mitochondria outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP), which causes mitochondrial-mediated cell death.We formulated poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles containing Mdivi1 (Mdivi1-NP). We recently demonstrated that these nanoparticles could be successfully delivered to the cytosol and mitochondria of cardiomyocytes under H2O2-induced oxidative stress that mimicked IR injury. Pretreatment with Mdivi1-NP ameliorated H2O2-induced cell death in rat neonatal cardiomyocytes more potently than Mdivi1 alone, as indicated by a lower estimated half-maximal effective concentration and greater maximal effect on cell survival. Mdivi1-NP treatment of Langendorff-perfused mouse hearts through the coronary arteries at the time of reperfusion reduced infarct size after IR injury more effectively than Mdivi1 alone. Mdivi1-NP treatment also inhibited Drp1-mediated Bax translocation to the mitochondria and subsequent cytochrome c leakage into the cytosol, namely, MOMP, in mouse IR hearts. MOMP inhibition was also observed in cyclophilin D knockout (CypD-KO) mice, which lack the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) opening. Intravenous Mdivi1-NP treatment in vivo at the time of reperfusion reduced IR injury in wild-type and CypD-KO mice, but not Bax-KO mice.Mdivi1-NP treatment reduced IR injury through inhibition of MOMP, even in the absence of a CypD/MPTP opening. Thus, nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery of Mdivi1 may be a novel treatment strategy for IR injury.
View details for PubMedID 27451459
A New Therapeutic Modality for Acute Myocardial Infarction: Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Pitavastatin Induces Cardioprotection from Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury via Activation of PI3K/Akt Pathway and Anti-Inflammation in a Rat Model
2015; 10 (7): e0132451
There is an unmet need to develop an innovative cardioprotective modality for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), for which the effectiveness of interventional reperfusion therapy is hampered by myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. Pretreatment with statins before ischemia is shown to reduce MI size in animals. However, no benefit was found in animals and patients with AMI when administered at the time of reperfusion, suggesting insufficient drug targeting into the IR myocardium. Here we tested the hypothesis that nanoparticle-mediated targeting of pitavastatin protects the heart from IR injury.In a rat IR model, poly(lactic acid/glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticle incorporating FITC accumulated in the IR myocardium through enhanced vascular permeability, and in CD11b-positive leukocytes in the IR myocardium and peripheral blood after intravenous treatment. Intravenous treatment with PLGA nanoparticle containing pitavastatin (Pitavastatin-NP, 1 mg/kg) at reperfusion reduced MI size after 24 hours and ameliorated left ventricular dysfunction 4-week after reperfusion; by contrast, pitavastatin alone (as high as 10 mg/kg) showed no therapeutic effects. The therapeutic effects of Pitavastatin-NP were blunted by a PI3K inhibitor wortmannin, but not by a mitochondrial permeability transition pore inhibitor cyclosporine A. Pitavastatin-NP induced phosphorylation of Akt and GSK3β, and inhibited inflammation and cardiomyocyte apoptosis in the IR myocardium.Nanoparticle-mediated targeting of pitavastatin induced cardioprotection from IR injury by activation of PI3K/Akt pathway and inhibition of inflammation and cardiomyocyte death in this model. This strategy can be developed as an innovative cardioprotective modality that may advance currently unsatisfactory reperfusion therapy for AMI.
View details for PubMedID 26167913