CaMKII-dependent diastolic SR Ca2+ leak and elevated diastolic Ca2+ levels in right atrial myocardium of patients with atrial fibrillation

Stefan Neef, Nataliya Dybkova, Samuel Sossalla, Katharina R Ort, Nina Fluschnik, Kay Neumann, Ralf Seipelt, Friedrich A Schöndube, Gerd Hasenfuss, Lars S Maier
Circulation Research 2010 April 2, 106 (6): 1134-44

RATIONALE: Although research suggests that diastolic Ca(2+) levels might be increased in atrial fibrillation (AF), this hypothesis has never been tested. Diastolic Ca(2+) leak from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) might increase diastolic Ca(2+) levels and play a role in triggering or maintaining AF by transient inward currents through Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange. In ventricular myocardium, ryanodine receptor type 2 (RyR2) phosphorylation by Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMK)II is emerging as an important mechanism for SR Ca(2+) leak.

OBJECTIVE: We tested the hypothesis that CaMKII-dependent diastolic SR Ca(2+) leak and elevated diastolic Ca(2+) levels occurs in atrial myocardium of patients with AF.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We used isolated human right atrial myocytes from patients with AF versus sinus rhythm and found CaMKII expression to be increased by 40+/-14% (P<0.05), as well as CaMKII phosphorylation by 33+/-12% (P<0.05). This was accompanied by a significantly increased RyR2 phosphorylation at the CaMKII site (Ser2814) by 110+/-53%. Furthermore, cytosolic Ca(2+) levels were elevated during diastole (229+/-20 versus 164+/-8 nmol/L, P<0.05). Most likely, this resulted from an increased SR Ca(2+) leak in AF (P<0.05), which was not attributable to higher SR Ca(2+) load. Tetracaine experiments confirmed that SR Ca(2+) leak through RyR2 leads to the elevated diastolic Ca(2+) level. CaMKII inhibition normalized SR Ca(2+) leak and cytosolic Ca(2+) levels without changes in L-type Ca(2+) current.

CONCLUSION: Increased CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation of RyR2 leads to increased SR Ca(2+) leak in human AF, causing elevated cytosolic Ca(2+) levels, thereby providing a potential arrhythmogenic substrate that could trigger or maintain AF.

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