Time course of atrial fibrillation-induced cellular structural remodeling in atria of the goat

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2001 Dec;33(12):2083-94. doi: 10.1006/jmcc.2001.1472.


Background: Previously we documented cellular structural changes of a non-degenerative nature in atrial myocytes after atrial fibrillation (AF) in the goat. The time course of these changes was not studied.

Methods and results: Cellular structural changes were studied by light- and electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry in goat atria after 0-16 weeks AF. The first sign of cellular structural remodeling was a more homogeneous chromatin distribution, at 1 week of AF. Sub-structural changes in mitochondria and sarcoplasmic reticulum occurred gradually. Cellular degeneration was absent. The degree of myolysis and glycogen accumulation increased till 8 weeks of AF and did not increase further from thereon. After 16 weeks of AF, 42% of the myocytes in the right atrial free wall were affected by myolysis. The diameter of the atrial myocytes increased. Dedifferentiation of the atrial myocytes was suggested by altered expression patterns of structural proteins, such as the disappearance of cardiotin (1 week), the A-I junctional part of titin (4 weeks), desmin at the intercalated disk (ID) (8 weeks) and a gradual re-expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin.

Conclusion: Remodeling of the cellular ultrastructure in atrial myocardium of the goat develops progressively during AF. Re-expression of fetal proteins indicate dedifferentiation of atrial myocytes, analogous to observations in hibernating myocardium of the ventricle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinin / metabolism
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Atrial Fibrillation / metabolism
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Size
  • Connectin
  • Connective Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Goats
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Atria / metabolism*
  • Heart Atria / pathology
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography


  • Actins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Connectin
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Proteins
  • cardiotin
  • Actinin
  • Protein Kinases