Despite a clear association between left ventricular (LV) mechanical dysfunction in end-stage heart failure and the incidence of arrhythmias, the majority of sudden cardiac deaths occur at earlier stages of disease development. The mechanisms by which structural, mechanical, and molecular alterations predispose to arrhythmias at the tissue level before the onset of LV dysfunction remain unclear. In a rat model of pressure overload hypertrophy (PoH) produced by ascending aortic banding, we correlated mechanical and structural changes measured in vivo with key electrophysiological changes measured ex vivo in the same animals. We found that action potential prolongation, a hallmark of electrical remodeling at the tissue level, is highly correlated with changes in LV wall thickness but not mechanical function. In contrast, conduction delays are not predicted by either mechanical or structural changes during disease development. Moreover, disrupted Cx43 phosphorylation at intermediate (increased) and late (decreased) stages of PoH are associated with moderate and severe conduction delays, respectively. Interestingly, the level of interaction between Cx43 and the cytoskeletal protein ZO-1 is exclusively decreased at the late stage of PoH. Closely coupled action potentials consistent with afterdepolarization-mediated triggered beats were readily observed in 6 of 15 PoH hearts but never in controls. Similarly, PoH (8/15) but not control hearts exhibited sustained episodes of ventricular tachycardia after rapid stimulation. The initiation and early maintenance of arrhythmias in PoH were formed by rapid and highly uniform activation wavefronts emanating from sites distal to the former site of stimulation. In conclusion, repolarization but not conduction delays are predicted by structural remodeling in PoH. Cx43 phosphorylation is disrupted at intermediate (increased) and late (decreased) stages, which are associated with conduction delays. Dephosphorylation of Cx43 is associated with loss of interaction with ZO-1 and severe conduction delays. Remodeling at all stages of PoH predisposes to triggers and focal arrhythmias.
- Heart failure
- Pressure overload hypertrophy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology