Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common form of arrhythmia with serious public health impacts, but its underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is highly expressed in the atrium of patients with AF, but whether VEGF affects AF pathogenesis remains unclear. Pulmonary veins (PVs) are important sources for the genesis of atrial tachycardia or AF. Therefore, this study assessed the effects of VEGF on PV electrophysiological properties and evaluated its underlying mechanisms. Conventional microelectrodes and whole-cell patch clamps were performed using isolated rabbit PV preparations or single isolated PV cardiomyocytes before and after VEGF or VEGF receptor (VEGFR), Akt, NOS inhibitor administration. We found that VEGF (0.1, 1, and 10 ng/mL) reduced the PV beating rate in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, VEGF (10 ng/mL) reduced late diastolic depolarization and diastolic tension. Isoproterenol increased PV beating and burst firing, which was attenuated by VEGF (1 ng/mL). In the presence of VEGFR-1 inhibition (ZM306416 at 10 μM) and L-NAME (100 μM), VEGF (1 ng/mL) did not alter PV spontaneous activity. In isolated PV cardiomyocytes, VEGF (1 ng/mL) decreased L-type calcium, sodium/calcium exchanger, and late sodium currents. In conclusion, we found that VEGF reduces PV arrhythmogenesis by modulating sodium/calcium homeostasis through VEGFR-1/NOS signaling pathway.
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