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Circ Res. 2001 Jun 8;88(11):1159-67.

Arrhythmogenesis and contractile dysfunction in heart failure: Roles of sodium-calcium exchange, inward rectifier potassium current, and residual beta-adrenergic responsiveness.

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Department of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA.


Ventricular arrhythmias and contractile dysfunction are the main causes of death in human heart failure (HF). In a rabbit HF model reproducing these same aspects of human HF, we demonstrate that a 2-fold functional upregulation of Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchange (NaCaX) unloads sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) stores, reducing Ca(2+) transients and contractile function. Whereas beta-adrenergic receptors (beta-ARs) are progressively downregulated in HF, residual beta-AR responsiveness at this critical HF stage allows SR Ca(2+) load to increase, causing spontaneous SR Ca(2+) release and transient inward current carried by NaCaX. A given Ca(2+) release produces greater arrhythmogenic inward current in HF (as a result of NaCaX upregulation), and approximately 50% less Ca(2+) release is required to trigger an action potential in HF. The inward rectifier potassium current (I(K1)) is reduced by 49% in HF, and this allows greater depolarization for a given NaCaX current. Partially blocking I(K1) in control cells with barium mimics the greater depolarization for a given current injection seen in HF. Thus, we present data to support a novel paradigm in which changes in NaCaX and I(K1), and residual beta-AR responsiveness, conspire to greatly increase the propensity for triggered arrhythmias in HF. In addition, NaCaX upregulation appears to be a critical link between contractile dysfunction and arrhythmogenesis.

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