Objectives: Local atrial tissue angiotensin II (AngII) level is elevated in atrial fibrillation (AF), but the mechanism is unknown. We hypothesized that atrial myocytes express all components of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and investigated whether rapid depolarization alone is sufficient to increase paracrine AngII production by up-regulating RAS component expression.
Methods: In the HL-1 atrial cell line, rapid depolarization was induced by rapid field electrical stimulation (RES) at 1.0 V/cm and 600/min (10 Hz) in atrial HL-1 cells. In a pig model of AF, AF was induced by atrial pacing at 600/min in 10 adult pigs and 10 sham-operated pigs for comparison.
Results: In atrial myocytes, RES induced a sustained elevation of intracellular calcium, and up-regulation of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), chymase and angiotensinogen, resulting in increased AngII production. RES-induced AngII production was attenuated by enalapril [ACE inhibitor (ACEI)] and chymostatin (chymase inhibitor). Conditioned medium from RES-stimulated atrial myocytes increased [3H]leucine uptake and atrial natriuretic peptide expression in atrial myocytes, and [3H]proline uptake and collagen type 1 alpha 1 expression in atrial fibroblasts. Both were attenuated by co-incubation with the AngII type 1 receptor blocker (ARB) losartan. In the porcine model, significant structural changes and a similar pattern of changes of RAS components were noted in AF pigs.
Conclusions: Atrial cells expressed all components of RAS and rapid depolarization alone was sufficient to up-regulate RAS components, increase paracrine AngII production and induce atrial structural changes, which are attenuated by ACEI, ARB and chymase inhibitor.