Atrial-selective sodium channel block as a novel strategy for the management of atrial fibrillation

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Feb;1188:78-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05086.x.


Safe and effective pharmacologic management of atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the greatest challenges facing an aging society. Currently available pharmacologic strategies for rhythm control of AF are associated with ventricular arrhythmias and in some cases multi-organ toxicity. Consequently, drug development has focused on atrial-selective agents such as IKur blockers. Recent studies suggest that IKur block alone may be ineffective for suppression of AF and may promote AF in healthy hearts. Recent experimental studies have demonstrated other important electrophysiologic differences between atrial and ventricular cells, particularly with respect to sodium channel function, and have identified sodium channel blockers that exploit these electrophysiologic distinctions. Atrial-selective sodium channel blockers, such as ranolazine and amiodarone, effectively suppress and/or prevent the induction of AF in experimental models, while producing little to no effect on ventricular myocardium. These findings suggest that atrial-selective sodium channel block may be a fruitful new strategy for the management of AF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / metabolism*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Sodium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism*


  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Sodium Channels