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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2012;29(5-6):833-40. doi: 10.1159/000178483. Epub 2012 May 11.

Spironolactone prevents aldosterone induced increased duration of atrial fibrillation in rat.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia in clinical practice. The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone-System plays a major role for the atrial structural and electrical remodelling. Recently elevated aldosterone levels have been suggested to increase the risk for the development of AF.


Rats were treated with aldosterone by means of an osmotic minipump (0.5μg/h) over a period of 4 weeks. AF was induced by transesophageal burst pacing. Action potentials (AP) were recorded from left atrial preparations with microelectrodes. Atrial collagen was quantified by histological studies.


Aldosterone treatment resulted in hypertrophy as indicated by an increased ratio of heart weight/tibia length and doubled the time until the AF converted spontaneously into sinus rhythm (85.8±13.4 s vs. 38.3±6.9 s, p<0.01). This was associated with a significant shortening of the AP (APD90 26.2±1.1 vs. 31.2±1.9, p<0.05) and an increased protein expression of Kir2.1 and Kv1.5. Atrial collagen deposition was significantly greater in aldosterone-treated rats. The alterations could be prevented by additional application spironolactone.


The results of the present study suggest that in addition to the structural remodelling aldosterone also promotes AF by altering repolarising potassium currents leading to action potential shortening.

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