First published April 25, 2019 - More info
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and accounts for substantial morbidity and mortality. Recently, we created a mouse model with spontaneous and sustained AF caused by a mutation in the NaV1.5 channel (F1759A) that enhances persistent Na+ current, thereby enabling the investigation of molecular mechanisms that cause AF and the identification of novel treatment strategies. The mice have regional heterogeneity of action potential duration of the atria similar to observations in patients with AF. In these mice, we found that the initiation and persistence of the rotational reentrant AF arrhythmias, known as spiral waves or rotors, were dependent upon action potential duration heterogeneity. The centers of the rotors were localized to regions of greatest heterogeneity of the action potential duration. Pharmacologically attenuating the action potential duration heterogeneity reduced both spontaneous and pacing-induced AF. Computer-based simulations also demonstrated that the action potential duration heterogeneity is sufficient to generate rotors that manifest as AF. Taken together, these findings suggest that action potential duration heterogeneity in mice and humans is one mechanism by which AF is initiated and that reducing action potential duration heterogeneity can lessen the burden of AF.