Atrial-selective targeting of arrhythmogenic phase-3 early afterdepolarizations in human myocytes

Stefano Morotti, Andrew D. McCulloch, Donald M. Bers, Andrew G. Edwards, Eleonora Grandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: We have previously shown that non-equilibrium Na<sup>+</sup> current (I<inf>Na</inf>) reactivation drives isoproterenol-induced phase-3 early afterdepolarizations (EADs) in mouse ventricular myocytes. In these cells, EAD initiation occurs secondary to potentiated sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca<sup>2+</sup> release and enhanced Na<sup>+</sup>/Ca<sup>2+</sup> exchange (NCX). This can be abolished by tetrodotoxin-blockade of I<inf>Na</inf>, but not ranolazine, which selectively inhibits ventricular late I<inf>Na</inf>. Aim: Since repolarization of human atrial myocytes is similar to mouse ventricular myocytes in that it is relatively rapid and potently modulated by Ca<sup>2+</sup>, we investigated whether similar mechanisms can evoke EADs in human atrium. Indeed, phase-3 EADs have been shown to re-initiate atrial fibrillation (AF) during autonomic stimulation, which is a well-recognized initiator of AF. Methods: We integrated a Markov model of I<inf>Na</inf> gating in our human atrial myocyte model. To simulate experimental results, we rapidly paced this cell model at 10Hz in the presence of 0.1μM acetylcholine and 1μM isoproterenol, and assessed EAD occurrence upon return to sinus rhythm (1Hz). Results: Cellular Ca<sup>2+</sup> loading during fast pacing results in a transient period of hypercontractility after return to sinus rhythm. Here, fast repolarization and enhanced NCX facilitate I<inf>Na</inf> reactivation via the canonical gating mode (i.e., not late I<inf>Na</inf> burst mode), which drives EAD initiation. Simulating ranolazine administration reduces atrial peak I<inf>Na</inf> and leads to faster repolarization, during which I<inf>Na</inf> fails to reactivate and EADs are prevented. Conclusions: Non-equilibrium I<inf>Na</inf> reactivation can critically contribute to arrhythmias, specifically in human atrial myocytes. Ranolazine might be beneficial in this context by blocking peak (not late) atrial I<inf>Na</inf>.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 28 2015


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Computer model
  • Na<sup>+</sup> current
  • Phase-3 EAD
  • Ranolazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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