MEK inhibitors: a promising targeted therapy for cardiovascular disease

Khaled Abdelsattar A K Mohammed*, Paolo R Madeddu, Elisa Avolio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) represents the leading cause of mortality and disability all over the world. Identifying new targeted therapeutic approaches has become a priority of biomedical research to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. The RAS-RAF-MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase)-ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway is gaining growing interest as a potential signaling cascade implicated in the pathogenesis of CVD. This pathway is pivotal in regulating cellular processes like proliferation, growth, migration, differentiation, and survival, which are vital in maintaining cardiovascular homeostasis. In addition, ERK signaling is involved in controlling angiogenesis, vascular tone, myocardial contractility, and oxidative stress. Dysregulation of this signaling cascade has been linked to cell dysfunction and vascular and cardiac pathological remodeling, which contribute to the onset and progression of CVD. Recent and ongoing research has provided insights into potential therapeutic interventions targeting the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK pathway to improve cardiovascular pathologies. Preclinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of targeted therapy with MEK inhibitors (MEKI) in attenuating ERK activation and mitigating CVD progression in animal models. In this article, we first describe how ERK signaling contributes to preserving cardiovascular health. We then summarize current knowledge of the roles played by ERK in the development and progression of cardiac and vascular disorders, including atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, and aortic aneurysm. We finally report novel therapeutic strategies for these CVDs encompassing MEKI and discuss advantages, challenges, and future developments for MEKI therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Jun 2024

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Heart Institute


  • MEK inhibitor
  • Cardiovascular Disease


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