Atrial fibrillation-associated electrical remodelling in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived atrial cardiomyocytes: a novel pathway for antiarrhythmic therapy development


Seibertz F, Rubio T, Springer R, Popp F, Ritter M, Liutkute A, Bartelt L, Stelzer L, Haghighi F, Pietras J, Windel H, Díaz I Pedrosa N, Rapedius M, Döring Y, Solano R, Hindmarsh R, Shi R, Tiburcy M, Brügmann T, Kutschka I, Streckfuss-Bömeke K, Kensah G, Cyganek L, Zimmermann WH, Voigt N.


Cardiovascular Research


Cardiovasc Res. 2023 Sep 7:cvad143.


Background and aims: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with tachycardia-induced cellular electrophysiology alterations which promote AF chronification and treatment resistance. Development of novel antiarrhythmic therapies is hampered by the absence of scalable experimental human models that reflect AF-associated electrical remodelling. Therefore, we aimed to assess if AF-associated remodelling of cellular electrophysiology can be simulated in human atrial-like cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells in the presence of retinoic acid (iPSC-aCM), and atrial engineered human myocardium (aEHM) under short term (24 h) and chronic (7 d) tachypacing (TP).

Methods and results: First, 24-hour electrical-pacing at 3 Hz was used to investigate whether AF-associated remodelling in iPSC-aCM and aEHM would ensue. Compared to controls (24 h, 1 Hz pacing) TP-stimulated iPSC-aCM presented classical hallmarks of AF-associated remodelling: (1) decreased L-type Ca2+ current (ICa, L) and (2) impaired activation of acetylcholine-activated inward-rectifier K+ current (IK, ACh). This resulted in action potential shortening and an absent response to the M-receptor agonist carbachol in both iPSC-aCM and aEHM subjected to TP. Accordingly, mRNA expression of the channel-subunit Kir3.4 was reduced. Selective IK, ACh blockade with tertiapin reduced basal inward-rectifier K+ current only in iPSC-aCM subjected to TP, thereby unmasking an agonist-independent constitutively-active IK, ACh. To allow for long-term TP, we developed iPSC-aCM and aEHM expressing the light-gated ion-channel f-Chrimson. The same hallmarks of AF-associated remodelling were observed after optical-TP. In addition, continuous TP (7 days) led to (1) increased amplitude of inward rectifier K+ current (IK1), (2) hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential, (3) increased AP-amplitude and upstroke velocity as well as (4) reversibly impaired contractile function in aEHM.

Conclusions: Classical hallmarks of AF-associated remodelling were mimicked through TP of iPSC-aCM and aEHM. The use of the ultrafast f-Chrimson depolarizing ion channel allowed us to model the time-dependence of AF-associated remodelling in vitro for the first time. The observation of electrical remodelling with associated reversible contractile dysfunction offers a novel platform for human-centric discovery of antiarrhythmic therapies.

Keywords: action potential; atrial fibrillation; ion channel; optogenetics; stem cells.



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