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Cardiovasc Res. 2003 Sep 1;59(3):593-602.

Characterisation of the Na, K pump current in atrial cells from patients with and without chronic atrial fibrillation.

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Section of Cardiology, Division of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK.



To assess the contribution of the Na, K pump current (I(p)) to the action potential duration (APD) and effective refractory period (ERP) in human atrial cells, and to investigate whether I(p) contributes to the changes in APD and ERP associated with chronic atrial fibrillation (AF).


Action potentials and ion currents were recorded by whole-cell patch clamp in atrial myocytes isolated from consenting patients undergoing cardiac surgery, who were in sinus rhythm (SR) or AF (>3 months).


In cells from patients in SR, the I(p) blocker, ouabain (10 microM) significantly depolarised the membrane potential, V(m), from -80+/-2 (mean+/-S.E.) to -73+/-2 mV, and lengthened both the APD (174+/-17 vs. 197+/-23 ms at 90% repolarisation) and ERP (198+/-22 vs. 266+/-14 ms; P<0.05 for each, Student's t-test, n=7 cells, 5 patients). With an elevated pipette [Na(+)] of 30 mM, I(p) was measured by increasing extracellular [K(+)] ([K(+)](o)) from 0 to 5.4 mM. This produced an outward shift in holding current at -40 mV, abolished by 10 microM ouabain. K(+)- and ouabain-sensitive current densities were similar, at 0.99+/-0.13 and 1.12+/-0.11 pA/pF, respectively (P>0.05; n=9 cells), confirming the K(+)-induced current as I(p). I(p) increased linearly with increasing V(m) between -120 and +60 mV (n=25 cells). Stepwise increments in [K(+)](o) (between 0 and 10 mM) increased I(p) in a concentration-dependent manner (maximum response, E(max)=1.19+/-0.09 pA/pF; EC(50)=1.71+/-0.15 mM; n=27 cells, 9 patients). In cells from patients in AF, the sensitivity of I(p) to both V(m) and [K(+)](o) (E(max)=1.02+/-0.05 pA/pF, EC(50)=1.54+/-0.11 mM; n=44 cells, 9 patients) was not significantly different from that in cells from patients in SR. Within the group of patients in AF, long-term digoxin therapy (n=5 patients) was associated with a small, but significant, reduction in E(max) (0.92+/-0.07 pA/pF) and EC(50) (1.35+/-0.15 mM) compared with non-treatment (E(max)=1.13+/-0.08 pA/pF, EC(50)=1.76+/-0.14 mM; P<0.05 for each, n=4 patients). In cells from non-digoxin-treated patients in AF, the voltage- and [K(+)](o)-sensitivity (E(max) and EC(50)) were similar to those in cells from patients in SR.


The Na, K pump current contributes to the human atrial cell V(m), action potential shape and ERP. However, the similarity in I(p) sensitivity to both [K(+)](o) and V(m) between atrial cells from patients with and without chronic AF indicates that I(p) is not involved in AF-induced electrophysiological remodelling in patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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