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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Jun 1;302(11):H2331-40. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00094.2012. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Enhanced sensitivity of aged fibrotic hearts to angiotensin II- and hypokalemia-induced early afterdepolarization-mediated ventricular arrhythmias.

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  • 1Translational Arrhythmia Research Section, University of California-Los Angeles Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, USA.


Unlike young hearts, aged hearts are highly susceptible to early afterdepolarization (EAD)-mediated ventricular fibrillation (VF). This differential may result from age-related structural remodeling (fibrosis) or electrical remodeling of ventricular myocytes or both. We used optical mapping and microelectrode recordings in Langendorff-perfused hearts and patch-clamp recordings in isolated ventricular myocytes from aged (24-26 mo) and young (3-4 mo) rats to assess susceptibility to EADs and VF during either oxidative stress with ANG II (2 μM) or ionic stress with hypokalemia (2.7 mM). ANG II caused EAD-mediated VF in 16 of 19 aged hearts (83%) after 32 ± 7 min but in 0 of 9 young hearts (0%). ANG II-mediated VF was suppressed with KN-93 (Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase inhibitor) and the reducing agent N-acetylcysteine. Hypokalemia caused EAD-mediated VF in 11 of 11 aged hearts (100%) after 7.4 ± 0.4 min. In 14 young hearts, however, VF did not occur in 6 hearts (43%) or was delayed in onset (31 ± 22 min, P < 0.05) in 8 hearts (57%). In patch-clamped myocytes, ANG II and hypokalemia (n = 6) induced EADs and triggered activity in both age groups (P = not significant) at a cycle length of >0.5 s. When myocytes of either age group were coupled to a virtual fibroblast using the dynamic patch-clamp technique, EADs arose in both groups at a cycle length of <0.5 s. Aged ventricles had significantly greater fibrosis and reduced connexin43 gap junction density compared with young hearts. The lack of differential age-related sensitivity at the single cell level in EAD susceptibility indicates that increased ventricular fibrosis in the aged heart plays a key role in increasing vulnerability to VF induced by oxidative and ionic stress.

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