Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and a major cause of stroke. Unfortunately, current therapies for AF are suboptimal, largely because the molecular mechanisms underlying AF are poorly understood. Since the autonomic nervous system is thought to increase vulnerability to AF, we investigated in a rapid atrial pacing (RAP) canine model the anatomic and electrophysiological characteristics of autonomic remodeling in different regions of the left atrium. RAP led to marked hypertrophy of parent nerve bundles in the posterior left atrium (PLA), resulting in a global increase in parasympathetic and sympathetic innervation throughout the left atrium. Parasympathetic fibers were more heterogeneously distributed in the PLA when compared to other left atrial regions; this led to greater fractionation and disorganization of AF electrograms in the PLA. Computational modeling revealed that heterogeneously distributed parasympathetic activity exacerbates sympathetic substrate for wave break and reentry. We further discovered that levels of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) were greatest in the left atrial appendage (LAA), where AF was most organized. Preferential NGF release by the LAA - likely a direct function of frequency and regularity of atrial stimulation - may have important implications for creation of a vulnerable AF substrate.
Georg Gussak, Anna Pfenniger, Lisa M. Wren, Mehul Gilani, Wenwei Zhang, Shin Yoo, David A. Johnson, Amy Burrell, Brandon Benefield, Gabriel M. Knight, Bradley P. Knight, Rod Passman, Jeffrey J. Goldberger, Gary Aistrup, J. Andrew Wasserstrom, Yohannes Shiferaw, Rishi Arora
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.