Pioglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma activator, attenuates atrial fibrosis and atrial fibrillation promotion in rabbits with congestive heart failure

Masayuki Shimano, Yukiomi Tsuji, Yasuya Inden, Kazuhisa Kitamura, Tomohiro Uchikawa, Shuji Harata, Stanley Nattel, Toyoaki Murohara
Heart Rhythm: the Official Journal of the Heart Rhythm Society 2008, 5 (3): 451-9

BACKGROUND: The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) activator pioglitazone antagonizes angiotensin II actions and possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in vitro. There is evidence that pioglitazone improves ventricular remodeling in some experimental models.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of pioglitazone on arrhythmogenic atrial structural remodeling versus the effects of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker candesartan in a rabbit model of congestive heart failure.

METHODS: Rabbits subjected to ventricular tachypacing at 380 to 400 bpm for 4 weeks in the absence and presence of treatment with pioglitazone, candesartan, and combined pioglitazone and candesartan were assessed by electrophysiologic study, atrial fibrosis measurements, and cytokine expression analyses.

RESULTS: Atrial fibrillation (AF) lasting longer than 2 seconds was induced in no nonpaced controls but in all ventricular tachypacing-only rabbits (mean duration of AF: 8.0 +/- 1.4 seconds). Pioglitazone reduced the duration of AF (3.5 +/- 0.2 seconds, P <.05) and attenuated atrial structural remodeling, with significant reductions in interatrial activation time (50 +/- 2 ms vs 41 +/- 2 ms, P <.05) and atrial fibrosis (16.8% +/- 0.8% vs 10.9% +/- 0.7%, P <.05; control 1.6% +/- 0.2%), effects comparable to those of candesartan (duration of AF: 3.0 +/- 0.2 seconds; activation time 44 +/- 2 ms; fibrosis: 9.4% +/- 0.6%). Both pioglitazone and candesartan reduced transforming growth factor-beta1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase expression similarly, but neither affected p38-kinase or c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation. The effects of combined pioglitazone and candesartan therapy were not significantly different from the effects of pioglitazone or candesartan alone.

CONCLUSION: Pioglitazone can attenuate congestive heart failure-induced atrial structural remodeling and AF promotion, with effects similar to those of candesartan. PPAR-gamma may be a potential therapeutic target for human AF.

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