Ryanodine receptor-mediated calcium leak drives progressive development of an atrial fibrillation substrate in a transgenic mouse model

Na Li, David Y Chiang, Sufen Wang, Qiongling Wang, Liang Sun, Niels Voigt, Jonathan L Respress, Sameer Ather, Darlene G Skapura, Valerie K Jordan, Frank T Horrigan, Wilhelm Schmitz, Frank U Müller, Miguel Valderrabano, Stanley Nattel, Dobromir Dobrev, Xander H T Wehrens
Circulation 2014 March 25, 129 (12): 1276-1285

BACKGROUND: The progression of atrial fibrillation (AF) from paroxysmal to persistent forms remains a major clinical challenge. Abnormal sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) leak via the ryanodine receptor type 2 (RyR2) has been observed as a source of ectopic activity in various AF models. However, its potential role in progression to long-lasting spontaneous AF (sAF) has never been tested. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that enhanced RyR2-mediated Ca(2+) release underlies the development of a substrate for sAF and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.

METHODS AND RESULTS: CREM-IbΔC-X transgenic (CREM) mice developed age-dependent progression from spontaneous atrial ectopy to paroxysmal and eventually long-lasting AF. The development of sAF in CREM mice was preceded by enhanced diastolic Ca(2+) release, atrial enlargement, and marked conduction abnormalities. Genetic inhibition of Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II-mediated RyR2-S2814 phosphorylation in CREM mice normalized open probability of RyR2 channels and SR Ca(2+) release, delayed the development of spontaneous atrial ectopy, fully prevented sAF, suppressed atrial dilation, and forestalled atrial conduction abnormalities. Hyperactive RyR2 channels directly stimulated the Ca(2+)-dependent hypertrophic pathway nuclear factor of activated T cell/Rcan1-4, suggesting a role for the nuclear factor of activated T cell/Rcan1-4 system in the development of a substrate for long-lasting AF in CREM mice.

CONCLUSIONS: RyR2-mediated SR Ca(2+) leak directly underlies the development of a substrate for sAF in CREM mice, the first demonstration of a molecular mechanism underlying AF progression and sAF substrate development in an experimental model. Our work demonstrates that the role of abnormal diastolic Ca(2+) release in AF may not be restricted to the generation of atrial ectopy but extends to the development of atrial remodeling underlying the AF substrate.

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