DOI: 10.1098/rsfs.2023.0039 ISSN: 2042-8901

Mechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension-induced atrial fibrillation: insights from multi-scale models of the human atria

Jieyun Bai, Andy Lo, James Kennelly, Roshan Sharma, Na Zhao, Mark L. Trew, Jichao Zhao
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biotechnology

This study aimed to use multi-scale atrial models to investigate pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)-induced atrial fibrillation mechanisms. The results of our computer simulations revealed that, at the single-cell level, PAH-induced remodelling led to a prolonged action potential (AP) (ΔAPD: 49.6 ms in the right atria (RA) versus 41.6 ms in the left atria (LA)) and an increased calcium transient (CaT) (ΔCaT: 7.5 × 10 −2 µM in the RA versus 0.9 × 10 −3 µM in the LA). Moreover, heterogeneous remodelling increased susceptibility to afterdepolarizations, particularly in the RA. At the tissue level, we observed a significant reduction in conduction velocity (CV) (ΔCV: −0.5 m s –1 in the RA versus −0.05 m s –1 in the LA), leading to a shortened wavelength in the RA, but not in the LA. Additionally, afterdepolarizations in the RA contributed to enhanced repolarization dispersion and facilitated unidirectional conduction block. Furthermore, the increased fibrosis in the RA amplified the likelihood of excitation wave breakdown and the occurrence of sustained re-entries. Our results indicated that the RA is characterized by increased susceptibility to afterdepolarizations, slow conduction, reduced wavelength and upregulated fibrosis. These findings shed light on the underlying factors that may promote atrial fibrillation in patients with PAH.

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