Enhanced Cardiomyocyte NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling Promotes Atrial Fibrillation
Background—Atrial fibrillation (AF) is frequently associated with enhanced inflammatory response. The "NACHT, LRR and PYD domain containing protein 3" (NLRP3)-inflammasome mediates caspase-1 activation and interleukin-1β release in immune cells, but is not known to play a role in cardiomyocytes (CMs). Here, we assessed the role of CM NLRP3-inflammasome in AF.
Methods—NLRP3-inflammasome activation was assessed by immunoblot in atrial whole-tissue lysates and CMs from patients with paroxysmal (pAF) or long-standing persistent (chronic) AF (cAF). To determine whether CM-specific activation of NLPR3 is sufficient to promote AF, a CM-specific knock-in mouse model expressing constitutively active NLRP3 (CM-KI) was established. In vivo electrophysiology was used to assess atrial arrhythmia vulnerability. To evaluate the mechanism of AF, electrical activation pattern, Ca2+ spark frequency (CaSF), atrial effective refractory period (AERP), and morphology of atria were evaluated in CM-KI mice and WT littermates.
Results—NLRP3-inflammasome activity was increased in atrial CMs of pAF and cAF patients. CM-KI mice developed spontaneous premature atrial contractions and inducible AF, which was attenuated by a specific NLRP3-inflammasome inhibitor, MCC950. CM-KI mice exhibited ectopic activity, abnormal sarcoplasmic-reticulum Ca2+-release, AERP shortening and atrial hypertrophy. Adeno-associated virus subtype-9 mediated CM-specific knockdown of Nlrp3 suppressed AF development in CM-KI mice. Finally, genetic inhibition of Nlrp3 prevented AF development in CREM transgenic mice, a well-characterized mouse model of spontaneous AF.
Conclusions—Our study establishes a novel pathophysiological role for CM NLRP3-inflammasome signaling with a mechanistic link to the pathogenesis of AF, and establishes inhibition of NLRP3 as a potential novel AF-therapy approach.
- Received April 4, 2018.
- Revision received May 4, 2018.
- Accepted May 14, 2018.