Exploring the Pathophysiology of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2017 Jun;19(6):53. doi: 10.1007/s11886-017-0865-7.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to explore the pathophysiology of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy by appraising the interplay between myocardial perfusion, function, metabolism, and, particularly, sympathetic innervation.

Recent findings: A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain the pathogenesis of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which include (1) catecholamine cardiac toxicity, (2) myocardial sympathetic innervation disruption, (3) coronary vasospasm, (4) myocardial microvascular dysfunction, and (5) aborted myocardial infarction. These proposals are primarily derived from findings of nuclear myocardial perfusion, metabolism, and cardiac sympathetic innervation imaging. Although data in the literature are not necessarily uniform, the two most plausible working postulates for explaining the phenomenon are (1) regional myocardial stunning (due to coronary vasospasm, microvascular dysfunction, or aborted myocardial infarction) and (2) cardiac sympathetic innervation disruption or toxicity. Current data suggest that disturbances of both coronary circulation and neural innervation are associated with the Takotsubo cardiomyopathy: myocardial stunning from transient ischemic attack and sympathetic innervation disruption. It remains to be determined, however, whether the observed leading mechanistic explanations that have gained momentum are merely the sequelae of the disease rather than its primary etiology.

Keywords: 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine; Cardiac sympathetic imaging; Myocardial metabolic imaging; Stunned myocardium; Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Circulation / physiology
  • Coronary Vasospasm / complications
  • Heart / innervation
  • Heart / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microvessels / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Stunning / complications
  • Sympathetic Nervous System
  • Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy / etiology*
  • Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy / physiopathology*