Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a common syndrome with high morbidity and mortality for which there are no evidence-based therapies. Here we report that concomitant metabolic and hypertensive stress in mice—elicited by a combination of high-fat diet and inhibition of constitutive nitric oxide synthase using N ω -nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME)—recapitulates the numerous systemic and cardiovascular features of HFpEF in humans. Expression of one of the unfolded protein response effectors, the spliced form of X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP1s), was reduced in the myocardium of our rodent model and in humans with HFpEF. Mechanistically, the decrease in XBP1s resulted from increased activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and S-nitrosylation of the endonuclease inositol-requiring protein 1α (IRE1α), culminating in defective XBP1 splicing. Pharmacological or genetic suppression of iNOS, or cardiomyocyte-restricted overexpression of XBP1s, each ameliorated the HFpEF phenotype. We report that iNOS-driven dysregulation of the IRE1α–XBP1 pathway is a crucial mechanism of cardiomyocyte dysfunction in HFpEF.
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