Cellular and mitochondrial mechanisms of atrial fibrillation


Jung P, Seibertz F, Fakuade FE, Ignatyeva N, Sampathkumar S, Ritter M, Li H, Mason FE, Ebert A, Voigt N.


Basic Research in Cardiology


Basic Res Cardiol. 2022 May 2;117(1):5.


Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a major risk factor for heart failure and is associated with the development of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Using a patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte (iPSC-CM) model harbouring a mutation in cardiac troponin T (R173W), we aim to examine the cellular basis of arrhythmogenesis in DCM patients with this mutation. iPSC from control (Ctrl) and DCM-TnT-R173W donors from the same family were differentiated into iPSC-CM and analysed through optical action potential (AP) recordings, simultaneous measurement of cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) and membrane currents and separately assayed using field stimulation to detect the threshold for AP- and [Ca2+]i-alternans development. AP duration was unaltered in TnT-R173W iPSC-CM. Nevertheless, TnT-R173W iPSC-CM showed a strikingly low stimulation threshold for AP- and [Ca2+]i-alternans. Myofilaments are known to play a role as intracellular Ca2+ buffers and here we show increased Ca2+ affinity of intracellular buffers in TnT-R173W cells, indicating increased myofilament sensitivity to Ca2+. Similarly, EMD57033, a myofilament Ca2+ sensitiser, replicated the abnormal [Ca2+]i dynamics observed in TnT-R173W samples and lowered the threshold for alternans development. In contrast, application of a Ca2+ desensitiser (blebbistatin) to TnT-R173W iPSC-CM was able to phenotypically rescue Ca2+ dynamics, normalising Ca2+ transient profile and minimising the occurrence of Ca2+ alternans at physiological frequencies. This finding suggests that increased Ca2+ buffering likely plays a major arrhythmogenic role in patients with DCM, specifically in those with mutations in cardiac troponin T. In addition, we propose that modulation of myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity could be an effective anti-arrhythmic target for pharmacological management of this disease.



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