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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2000 Jun;23(6):960-5.

Action potential remodeling in the human right atrium with chronic lone atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1Section of Arrhythmia, Shizuoka Saiseikai General Hospital, Japan.


It has been shown in animal experiments that recurrent induction of atrial fibrillation (AF) or long-lasting atrial pacing causes a shortening of the atrial effective refractory period (ERP) and action potential duration (APD) and a loss of their physiological adaptation to rate. Much remains to be clarified as to the electrical remodeling in human patients with chronic AF. We recorded monophasic action potentials (MAPs) from the right atrium at pacing cycle lengths (CLs) of 300, 333, 400, 500, 600, and 750 ms after external cardioversion in 13 patients with chronic lone AF. Their configuration was compared with those obtained from 13 control patients. APDs at 50% and 90% repolarization (APD50, APD90) at the shortest CL (300 ms) in control and AF patients were 131 +/- 14, 211 +/- 19 ms and 136 +/- 12, 210 +/- 22 ms, respectively (mean +/- SD). APDs in control patients increased linearly with increases of CL, reaching maximal values of 174 +/- 30 ms (APD50) and 277 +/- 38 ms (APD90) at a CL of 750 ms. In AF patients, the steady-state CL-APD relation was shifted downward and flattened at CLs > 500 ms; APD50 and APD90 at a CL of 750 ms were 158 +/- 19 ms, 232 +/- 28 ms, respectively. APD90s at CLs of 600 and 750 ms were significantly shorter in AF than in control patients. No statistically significant difference was obtained in APD50 between the two groups at any CL tested. MAP configuration in AF patients was characterized by an acceleration of the late repolarization. The difference between APD90 and APD50 (APD90-50) in control patients was increased with increases of CL, reaching a plateau at a CL of 600 ms. This CL dependent slowing of the late repolarization of MAPs was abolished in AF patients. The atrial ERP, measured at CLs of 400 and 600 ms, showed changes parallel to those of APD90. ERP at a CL of 600 ms in AF patients (224 +/- 13 ms) was significantly shorter than that in control patients (247 +/- 25 ms). We conclude that chronic lone AF leads to electrical remodeling in the human atrium, which causes a loss of rate response of the late repolarization of action potential, leading to a shortening of APD and ERP at slower heart rates.

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