G protein-coupled receptor kinases as therapeutic targets in the heart.


Center for Translational Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA. [Email]


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are critical cellular sensors that mediate numerous physiological processes. In the heart, multiple GPCRs are expressed on various cell types, where they coordinate to regulate cardiac function by modulating critical processes such as contractility and blood flow. Under pathological settings, these receptors undergo aberrant changes in expression levels, localization and capacity to couple to downstream signalling pathways. Conventional therapies for heart failure work by targeting GPCRs, such as β-adrenergic receptor and angiotensin II receptor antagonists. Although these treatments have improved patient survival, heart failure remains one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. GPCR kinases (GRKs) are responsible for GPCR phosphorylation and, therefore, desensitization and downregulation of GPCRs. In this Review, we discuss the GPCR signalling pathways and the GRKs involved in the pathophysiology of heart disease. Given that increased expression and activity of GRK2 and GRK5 contribute to the loss of contractile reserve in the stressed and failing heart, inhibition of overactive GRKs has been proposed as a novel therapeutic approach to treat heart failure.