Background: The human heart primarily metabolizes fatty acids, and this decreases as alternative fuel use rises in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Patients with severe obesity and diabetes are thought to have increased myocardial fatty acid metabolism, but whether this is found in those who also have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is unknown. Methods: Plasma and endomyocardial biopsies were obtained from HFpEF (n=38), HFrEF (n=30), and nonfailing donor controls (n=20). Quantitative targeted metabolomics measured organic acids, amino acids, and acylcarnitines in myocardium (72 metabolites) and plasma (69 metabolites). The results were integrated with reported RNA sequencing data. Metabolomics were analyzed using agnostic clustering tools, Kruskal-Wallis test with Dunn test, and machine learning. Results: Agnostic clustering of myocardial but not plasma metabolites separated disease groups. Despite more obesity and diabetes in HFpEF versus HFrEF (body mass index, 39.8 kg/m2 versus 26.1 kg/m2; diabetes, 70% versus 30%; both P<0.0001), medium- and long-chain acylcarnitines (mostly metabolites of fatty acid oxidation) were markedly lower in myocardium from both heart failure groups versus control. In contrast, plasma levels were no different or higher than control. Gene expression linked to fatty acid metabolism was generally lower in HFpEF versus control. Myocardial pyruvate was higher in HFpEF whereas the tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates succinate and fumarate were lower, as were several genes controlling glucose metabolism. Non-branched-chain and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) were highest in HFpEF myocardium, yet downstream BCAA metabolites and genes controlling BCAA metabolism were lower. Ketone levels were higher in myocardium and plasma of patients with HFrEF but not HFpEF. HFpEF metabolomic-derived subgroups were differentiated by only a few differences in BCAA metabolites. Conclusions: Despite marked obesity and diabetes, HFpEF myocardium exhibited lower fatty acid metabolites compared with HFrEF. Ketones and metabolites of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and BCAA were also lower in HFpEF, suggesting insufficient use of alternative fuels. These differences were not detectable in plasma and challenge conventional views of myocardial fuel use in HFpEF with marked diabetes and obesity and suggest substantial fuel inflexibility in this syndrome.
- branched-chain amino acid
- heart failure, preserved ejection fraction
- lipid metabolism
- metabolic networks and pathways
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)