Although treatment for heart failure induced by cancer therapy has improved in recent years, the prevalence of cardiomyopathy due to antineoplastic therapy remains significant worldwide. In addition to traditional mediators of myocardial damage, such as reactive oxygen species, new pathways and target cells should be considered responsible for the impairment of cardiac function during anticancer treatment. Accordingly, there is a need to develop novel therapeutic strategies to protect the heart from pharmacologic injury, and improve clinical outcomes in cancer patients. The development of novel protective therapies requires testing putative therapeutic strategies in appropriate animal models of chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy. This Position Paper of the Working Group on Drug Cardiotoxicity and Cardioprotection of the Italian Society of Cardiology aims to: (1) define the distinctive etiopatogenetic features of cardiac toxicity induced by cancer therapy in humans, which include new aspects of mitochondrial function and oxidative stress, neuregulin-1 modulation through the ErbB receptor family, angiogenesis inhibition, and cardiac stem cell depletion and/or dysfunction; (2) review the new, more promising therapeutic strategies for cardioprotection, aimed to increase the survival of patients with severe antineoplastic-induced cardiotoxicity; (3) recommend the distinctive pathological features of cardiotoxicity induced by cancer therapy in humans that should be present in animal models used to identify or to test new cardioprotective therapies.
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