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Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Nov;5(6):786-93. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.112.968321. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Irregular rhythm adversely influences calcium handling in ventricular myocardium: implications for the interaction between heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

Author information

1
Heart Failure Research Group, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite adequate rate control, the combination of atrial fibrillation with heart failure (HF) has been shown, in a number of studies, to hasten HF progression. In this context, we aimed to test the hypothesis that an irregular ventricular rhythm causes an alteration in ventricular cardiomyocyte excitation-contraction coupling which contributes to the progression of HF.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

We investigated the effects of electrical field stimulation (average frequency 2 Hz) in an irregular versus regular drive train pattern on the expression of calcium-handling genes and proteins in rat ventricular myocytes. The effect of rhythm on intracellular calcium transients was examined using Fura-2AM fluorescence spectroscopy. In conjunction, calcium-handling protein expression was examined in left ventricular samples obtained from end-stage HF patients, in patients with either persistent atrial fibrillation or sinus rhythm. Compared with regularly paced ventricular cardiomyocytes, in cells paced irregularly for 24 hours, there was a significant reduction in the expression of sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium (Ca(2+)) ATPase together with reduced serine-16 phosphorylation of phospholamban. These findings were accompanied by a 59% reduction (P<0.01) in the peak Ca2+ transient in irregulary paced myocytes compared with those with regular pacing. Consistent with these observations, we observed a 54% (P<0.05) decrease in sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)ATPase protein expression and an 85% (P<0.01) reduction in the extent of phosphorylation of phospholamban in the left ventricular myocardium of HF patients in atrial fibrillation compared with those in sinus rhythm.

CONCLUSIONS:

Together, these data demonstrate that ventricular rhythmicity contributes significantly to excitation-contraction coupling by altering the expression and activity of key calcium-handling proteins. These data suggest that control of rhythm may be of benefit in patients with HF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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