A growing body of evidence shows that altering the inflammatory response by alternative macrophage polarization is protective against complications related to acute myocardial infarction (MI). We have previously shown that oral azithromycin (AZM), initiated prior to MI, reduces inflammation and its negative sequelae on the myocardium. Here, we investigated the immunomodulatory role of a liposomal AZM formulation (L-AZM) in a clinically relevant model to enhance its therapeutic potency and avoid off-target effects. L-AZM (40 or 10 mg/kg, IV) was administered immediately post-MI and compared to free AZM (F-AZM). L-AZM reduced cardiac toxicity and associated mortality by 50% in mice. We observed a significant shift favoring reparatory/anti-inflammatory macrophages with L-AZM formulation. L-AZM use resulted in a remarkable decrease in cardiac inflammatory neutrophils and the infiltration of inflammatory monocytes. Immune cell modulation was associated with the downregulation of pro-inflammatory genes and the upregulation of anti-inflammatory genes. The immunomodulatory effects of L-AZM were associated with a reduction in cardiac cell death and scar size as well as enhanced angiogenesis. Overall, L-AZM use enhanced cardiac recovery and survival after MI. Importantly, L-AZM was protective from F-AZM cardiac off-target effects. We demonstrate that the liposomal formulation of AZM enhances the drug's efficacy and safety in an animal model of acute myocardial injury. This is the first study to establish the immunomodulatory properties of liposomal AZM formulations. Our findings strongly support clinical trials using L-AZM as a novel and clinically relevant therapeutic target to improve cardiac recovery and reduce heart failure post-MI in humans.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 10, article no. 16596.

© The Author(s) 2020

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Funding Information

Dr. Abdel-Latif is supported by the NIH Grant R01 HL124266.

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