Elamipretide for Barth syndrome cardiomyopathy: gradual rebuilding of a failed power grid

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Heart failure reviews


Barth syndrome is a rare and potentially fatal X-linked disease characterized by cardiomyopathy, skeletal muscle weakness, growth delays, and cyclic neutropenia. Patients with Barth syndrome are prone to high risk of mortality in infancy and the development of cardiomyopathy with severe weakening of the immune system. Elamipretide is a water-soluble, aromatic-cationic, mitochondria-targeting tetrapeptide that readily penetrates and transiently localizes to the inner mitochondrial membrane. Therapy with elamipretide facilitates cell health by improving energy production and inhibiting excessive formation of reactive oxygen species, thus alleviating oxidative stress. Elamipretide crosses the outer membrane of the mitochondrion and becomes associated with cardiolipin, a constituent phospholipid of the inner membrane. Elamipretide improves mitochondrial bioenergetics and morphology rapidly in induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with Barth syndrome and other genetically related diseases characterized by pediatric cardiomyopathy. Data with elamipretide across multiple models of disease are especially promising, with results from several studies supporting the use of elamipretide as potential therapy for patients with Barth syndrome, particularly where there is a confirmed diagnosis of cardiomyopathy. This review highlights the challenges and opportunities presented in treating Barth syndrome cardiomyopathy patients with elamipretide and addresses evidence supporting the durability of effect of elamipretide as a therapeutic agent for Barth syndrome, especially its likely durable effects on progression of cardiomyopathy following the cessation of drug treatment and the capability of elamipretide to structurally reverse remodel the failing left ventricle at the global, cellular, and molecular level in a gradual manner through specific targeting of the mitochondrial inner membrane.

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ePub ahead of print