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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 23;1662(1-2):138-48.

Remodelling of gap junctions and connexin expression in heart disease.

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National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK.


Different combinations and relative quantities of three connexins-connexin43, connexin40 and connexin45-are expressed in different subsets of cardiomyocyte. In the healthy heart, gap junctions assembled from these different connexin combinations form the cell-to-cell pathways for the precisely orchestrated patterns of current flow that govern the normal heart rhythm. Remodelling of gap junction organization and connexin expression is a conspicuous feature of human heart disease in which there is an arrhythmic tendency. This remodelling may take the form of structural remodelling, involving disturbances in the distribution of gap junctions (i.e., disruption of the normal ordered pathways for cell-to-cell conduction), and remodelling of connexin expression, involving alteration in the amount or type of connexin(s) present. Most notable among quantitative alterations in connexin expression is a reduction in ventricular connexin43 levels in human congestive heart failure. By correlating data from studies in experimental animal models, gap junction and connexin remodelling emerges as a factor to be considered in understanding the pro-arrhythmic substrate characteristic of many forms of heart disease. However, our knowledge of the functional correlates of the specific patterns of multiple connexin expression found in different regions of the heart in health and disease remains rudimentary, and the development of new experimental cell models heralds advances in this area over the next few years.

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