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Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2010 Aug;3(4):369-79. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.109.924985. Epub 2010 May 21.

Association of left atrial endothelin-1 with atrial rhythm, size, and fibrosis in patients with structural heart disease.

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Department of Molecular Cardiology, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.



Atrial fibrillation (AF) promotes atrial remodeling and can develop secondary to heart failure or mitral valve disease. Cardiac endothelin-1 (ET-1) expression responds to wall stress and can promote myocyte hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis. We tested the hypothesis that atrial ET-1 is elevated in AF and is associated with AF persistence.


Left atrial appendage tissue was studied from coronary artery bypass graft, valve repair, and/or Maze procedure in patients in sinus rhythm with no history of AF (SR, n=21), with history of AF but in SR at surgery (AF/SR, n=23), and in AF at surgery (AF/AF, n=32). The correlation of LA size with atrial protein and mRNA expression of ET-1 and ET-1 receptors (ETAR and ETBR) was evaluated. LA appendage ET-1 content was higher in AF/AF than in SR, but receptor levels were similar. Immunostaining revealed that ET-1 and its receptors were present both in atrial myocytes and in fibroblasts. ET-1 content was positively correlated with LA size, heart failure, AF persistence, and severity of mitral regurgitation. Multivariate analysis confirmed associations of ET-1 with AF, hypertension, and LA size. LA size was associated with ET-1 and MR severity. ET-1 mRNA levels were correlated with genes involved in cardiac dilatation, hypertrophy, and fibrosis.


Elevated atrial ET-1 content is associated with increased LA size, AF rhythm, hypertension, and heart failure. ET-1 is associated with atrial dilatation, fibrosis, and hypertrophy and probably contributes to AF persistence. Interventions that reduce atrial ET-1 expression and/or block its receptors may slow AF progression.

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