Early afterdepolarizations and triggered activity induced by cocaine. A possible mechanism of cocaine arrhythmogenesis.
BACKGROUND Cocaine may produce life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, but it is not clear whether this is an indirect effect of coronary vasoconstriction and ischemia or a direct myocardial effect of the substance. Except for its effects on the Na+ current as a local anesthetic, little is known about the direct electrophysiological actions on cardiac cells. Therefore, we studied the effects of cocaine on action potentials and membrane currents in isolated feline ventricular myocytes to test the hypothesis that cocaine-induced arrhythmogenesis may be based on cellular and ionic mechanisms.
METHODS AND RESULTS Action potentials and membrane currents were recorded using the patch clamp technique. Single cells were isolated from feline left ventricles by enzymatic digestion. Exposure to cocaine (10 or 50 microM) depressed the plateau phase of the action potential and prolonged action potential duration. Action potential duration measured at 90% repolarization (APD90) was increased from 280 +/- 12 msec to 325 +/- 17 msec (p less than 0.01) by 5-minute exposure to 10 mumol cocaine, when the cells were stimulated at 1 Hz. During exposure to 50 mumol cocaine, APD90 was markedly increased from 298 +/- 13 msec to 437 +/- 35 msec (p less than 0.01) in seven of 16 cells, and early afterdepolarizations (EADs) developed in these cells. The take-off potential and the amplitude of EADs were -28.3 +/- 2.3 mV and 16.8 +/- 1.2 mV, respectively. Triggered activity arising from EADs was induced in four of the seven cells. Addition of 1 nmol isoproterenol augmented EADs and induced sustained triggered activity, whereas they were suppressed by exposure to 2 microM verapamil. Whole-cell voltage clamp experiments revealed that cocaine (50 microM) reduced the peak L-type Ca2+ current from 1.03 +/- 0.13 nA to 0.79 +/- 0.11 nA (23% reduction, p less than 0.05). Cocaine also reduced the peak delayed rectifier K+ current from 362 +/- 51 pA to 113 +/- 32 pA (69% reduction, p less than 0.01). However, cocaine did not affect activation and inactivation kinetics of these channels. Cocaine had no effect on the inward rectifier K+ current.
CONCLUSIONS We conclude that cocaine can prolong action potential duration and induce EADs and triggered activity by blocking the delayed rectifier K+ current, and that cocaine-induced abnormalities of repolarization, modulated by its inhibitory effects on catecholamine reuptake, may play a role in the potential of cocaine for induction of acute fatal arrhythmias.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association