Effect of Heat Stress on Pulmonary Vein Cardiomyocytes. Introduction: Heat stress-induced responses reduce the occurrence of atrial fibrillation (AF). Pulmonary vein (PV) cardiomyocytes with pacemaker activity play a critical role in the pathophysiology of AF. In this study, we examined whether heat-stress responses alter the electrophysiological characteristics of PV cardiomyocytes and protect the PV against angiotensin II- or isoproterenol-induced arrhythmogenesis. Methods and Results: We used whole-cell patch clamp techniques to investigate the spontaneous activity and ionic currents in single isolated rabbit PV pacemaker cardiomyocytes with or without (control) exposure to heat stress (43°C, 15 minutes) 5 ± 1 hours before the experiments. Compared to control cardiomyocytes, heat-stressed PV cardiomyocytes had slower beating rates. Heat-stressed PV cardiomyocytes had larger L-type calcium currents, transient outward currents, smaller inward rectifier potassium currents, but similar sodium-calcium exchanger currents. Additionally, heat-stressed PV cardiomyocytes had a lower incidence of pacemaker currents than control PV cardiomyocytes. Moreover, isoproterenol increased the beating rate of control cardiomyocytes but not heat-stressed PV cardiomyocytes. Similarly, angiotensin II also increased the beating rate of control cardiomyocytes, but not heat-stressed PV cardiomyocytes, in association with decreased expression of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor. Conclusion: Heat-stress responses altered the electrophysiological characteristics of PV cardiomyocytes and attenuated the effects of isoproterenol and angiotensin II on PV arrhythmogenesis, which may play a role in the protective potential of heat-stress responses.
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