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Heart Rhythm. 2008 Jan;5(1):131-9. Epub 2007 Sep 16.

Spontaneous stellate ganglion nerve activity and ventricular arrhythmia in a canine model of sudden death.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Little information is available on the temporal relationship between instantaneous sympathetic nerve activity and ventricular arrhythmia in ambulatory animals.


The purpose of this study was to determine if increased sympathetic nerve activity precedes the onset of ventricular arrhythmia.


Simultaneous continuous long-term recording of left stellate ganglion (LSG) nerve activity and electrocardiography was performed in eight dogs with nerve growth factor infusion to the LSG, atrioventricular block, and myocardial infarction (experimental group) and in six normal dogs (control group).


LSG nerve activity included low-amplitude burst discharge activity (LABDA) and high-amplitude spike discharge activity (HASDA). Both LABDA and HASDA accelerated heart rate. In the experimental group, most ventricular tachycardia (86.3%) and sudden cardiac death were preceded within 15 seconds by either LABDA or HASDA. The closer to onset of ventricular tachycardia, the higher the nerve activity. The majority of HASDA was followed immediately by either ventricular arrhythmia (21%) or QRS morphology changes (65%). HASDA occurred in a circadian pattern. HASDA occurred twice as often in the experimental group than in the control group. Electrical stimulation of LSG increased transmural heterogeneity of repolarization (Tpeak-end intervals) and induced either ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation in the experimental group but not in the control group. Immunohistochemical studies revealed increased synaptogenesis and nerve sprouting in the LSG in the experimental group.


Two distinct types of LSG nerve activity (HASDA and LABDA) are present in the LSG of ambulatory dogs. The majority of malignant ventricular arrhythmias are preceded by either HASDA or LABDA, with HASDA particularly arrhythmogenic.

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