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Cardiovasc Res. 2010 Aug 1;87(3):485-93. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvq079. Epub 2010 Mar 7.

Cardiac Rac1 overexpression in mice creates a substrate for atrial arrhythmias characterized by structural remodelling.

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Klinik für Innere Medizin III (Kardiologie, Angiologie, Internistische Intensivmedizin), Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes, Kirrberger Strasse, Homburg/Saar D 66421, Germany.



The small GTPase Rac1 seems to play a role in the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation (AF). The aim of the present study was to characterize the effects of Rac1 overexpression on atrial electrophysiology.


In mice with cardiac overexpression of constitutively active Rac1 (RacET), statin-treated RacET, and wild-type controls (age 6 months), conduction in the right and left atrium (RA and LA) was mapped epicardially. The atrial effective refractory period (AERP) was determined and inducibility of atrial arrhythmias was tested. Action potentials were recorded in isolated cells. Left ventricular function was measured by pressure-volume analysis. Five of 11 RacET hearts showed spontaneous or inducible atrial tachyarrhythmias vs. 0 of 9 controls (P < 0.05). In RacET, the P-wave duration was significantly longer (26.8 +/- 2.1 vs. 16.7 +/- 1.1 ms, P = 0.001) as was total atrial activation time (RA: 13.6 +/- 4.4 vs. 3.2 +/- 0.5 ms; LA: 7.1 +/- 1.2 vs. 2.2 +/- 0.3 ms, P < 0.01). Prolonged local conduction times occurred more often in RacET (RA: 24.4 +/- 3.8 vs. 2.7 +/- 2.1%; LA: 19.1 +/- 6.3 vs. 1.2 +/- 0.7%, P < 0.01). The AERP and action potential duration did not differ significantly between both groups. RacET demonstrated significant atrial fibrosis but only moderate systolic heart failure. RacET and statin-treated RacET were not significantly different regarding atrial electrophysiology.


The substrate for atrial arrhythmias in mice with Rac1 overexpression is characterized by conduction disturbances and atrial fibrosis. Electrical remodelling (i.e. a shortening of AERP) does not play a role. Statin treatment cannot prevent the structural and electrophysiological effects of pronounced Rac1 overexpression in this model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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