Re-evaluating the efficacy of β-adrenergic agonists and antagonists in long QT-3 syndrome through computational modelling

Rebecca C. Ahrens-Nicklas, Colleen E Clancy, David J. Christini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


AimsLong QT syndrome (LQTS) is a heterogeneous collection of inherited cardiac ion channelopathies characterized by a prolonged electrocardiogram QT interval and increased risk of sudden cardiac death. β-Adrenergic blockers are the mainstay of treatment for LQTS. While their efficacy has been demonstrated in LQTS patients harbouring potassium channel mutations, studies of β-blockers in subtype 3 (LQT3), which is caused by sodium channel mutations, have produced ambiguous results. In this modelling study, we explore the effects of β-adrenergic drugs on the LQT3 phenotype.Methods and resultsIn order to investigate the effects of β-adrenergic activity and to identify sources of ambiguity in earlier studies, we developed a computational model incorporating the effects of β-agonists and β-blockers into an LQT3 mutant guinea pig ventricular myocyte model. β-Activation suppressed two arrhythmogenic phenomena, transmural dispersion of repolarization and early after depolarizations, in a dose-dependent manner. However, the ability of β-activation to prevent cardiac conduction block was pacing-rate-dependent. Low-dose β-blockade by propranolol reversed the beneficial effects of β-activation, while high dose (which has off-target sodium channel effects) decreased arrhythmia susceptibility.ConclusionThese results demonstrate that β-activation may be protective in LQT3 and help to reconcile seemingly conflicting results from different experimental models. They also highlight the need for well-controlled clinical investigations re-evaluating the use of β-blockers in LQT3 patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-447
Number of pages9
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenergic (ant)agonists
  • Arrhythmia (mechanisms)
  • Computer modelling
  • Long QT syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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