Effects of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cardiac Nerves on Atrial Arrhythmia in Experimental Pulmonary Artery Hypertension
Atrial arrhythmia, which includes atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter (AFL), is common in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), who often have increased sympathetic nerve activity. Here, we tested the hypothesis that autonomic nerves play important roles in vulnerability to AF/AFL in PAH. The atrial effective refractory period and AF/AFL inducibility at baseline and after anterior right ganglionated plexi ablation were determined during left stellate ganglion stimulation or left renal sympathetic nerve stimulation in beagle dogs with or without PAH. Then, sympathetic nerve, β-adrenergic receptor densities and connexin 43 expression in atrial tissues were assessed. The sum of the window of vulnerability to AF/AFL was increased in the right atrium compared with the left atrium at baseline in the PAH dogs but not in the controls. The atrial effective refractory period dispersion was increased in the control dogs, but not in the PAH dogs, during left stellate ganglion stimulation. The voltage thresholds for inducing AF/AFL during anterior right ganglionated plexi stimulation were lower in the PAH dogs than in the controls. The AF/AFL inducibility was suppressed after ablation of the anterior right ganglionated plexi in the PAH dogs. The PAH dogs had higher sympathetic nerve and β1-adrenergic receptor densities, increased levels of nonphosphorylated connexin 43, and heterogeneous connexin 43 expression in the right atrium when compared with the control dogs. The anterior right ganglionated plexi play important roles in the induction of AF/AFL. AF/AFL induction was associated with right atrium substrate remodeling in dogs with PAH.
- Received June 25, 2015.
- Revision received July 13, 2015.
- Accepted September 2, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.