Adenosine-Induced Atrial Fibrillation: Localized Reentrant Drivers in Lateral Right Atria due to Heterogeneous Expression of Adenosine A1 Receptors and GIRK4 Subunits in the Human Heart
Background—Adenosine provokes atrial fibrillation (AF) with a higher activation frequency in right atria (RA) versus left atria (LA) in patients, but the underlying molecular and functional substrates are unclear. We tested the hypothesis that adenosine-induced AF is driven by localized reentry in RA areas with highest expression of adenosine A1 receptor (A1R) and its downstream GIRK channels (IK,Ado).
Methods—We applied bi-atrial optical mapping and immunoblot mapping of various atrial regions to reveal the mechanism of adenosine-induced AF in explanted failing and non-failing human hearts (n=37).
Results—Optical mapping of coronary-perfused atria (n=24) revealed that adenosine perfusion (10-100µM) produced more significant shortening of action potential durations (APD80) in RA (from 290±45ms to 239±41ms, 17.3±10.4%; p<0.01) than LA (from 307±24ms to 286±23ms, 6.7±6.6%; p<0.01). In ten hearts, adenosine induced AF (317±116 sec) that, when sustained (≥2 min), was primarily maintained by one/two localized reentrant drivers in lateral RA. Tertiapin (10-100nM), a selective GIRK channel blocker, counteracted adenosine-induced APD shortening and prevented AF induction. Immunoblotting showed that the superior/middle lateral RA had significantly higher A1R (2.7±1.7 fold; p<0.01) and GIRK4 (1.7±0.8 fold; p<0.05) protein expression than lateral/posterior LA.
Conclusions—This study revealed a three-fold RA-to-LA A1R protein expression gradient in the human heart, leading to significantly greater RA vs. LA repolarization sensitivity in response to adenosine. Sustained adenosine-induced AF is maintained by reentrant drivers localized in lateral RA regions with the highest A1R/GIRK4 expression. Selective atrial GIRK channel blockade may effectively treat AF during conditions with increased endogenous adenosine.
- Received December 31, 2015.
- Revision received May 19, 2016.
- Accepted June 2, 2016.