Vernakalant does not alter early repolarization or contractility in normal and electrically remodelled atria

Europace. 2018 Jan 1;20(1):140-148. doi: 10.1093/europace/eux025.


Aims: Besides the inhibition of the sodium inward current, vernakalant also inhibits the ultra rapid rectifier (IKur) and transient outward current (Ito). Inhibition of these currents increases contractility in canine atrial myocytes and goat atria. We investigated the effect of vernakalant on early repolarization and contractility in normal and electrically remodelled atria.

Methods and results: Goats were implanted a pressure catheter, piezoelectric crystals, and electrodes to obtain atrial contractility and effective refractory period (ERP). The active component in pressure distance loops was used to compute the atrial work index (AWI). Experiments were performed in normal and electrically remodelled atria at clinically relevant plasma levels of vernakalant. As a positive control, the Ito/IKur blocker AVE0118 was investigated. Monophasic action potentials were recorded in anaesthetized goats and in explanted hearts to determine changes in action potential morphology. Vernakalant did not affect atrial work loops during sinus rhythm. Likewise vernakalant did not increase atrial fractional shortening or AWI during pacing with fixed heart rate and AV-delay. In contrast, AVE0118 did increase AWI, with a positive force frequency relation. Both in normal and remodelled atria, vernakalant strongly increased ERP but did not prolong early repolarization.

Conclusion: In goat atria, vernakalant does not have an atrial positive inotropic effect and does not affect early repolarization. At high rates vernakalant may even have a negative inotropic effect.

Keywords: Action potential; Atrial fibrillation; Contractility; Ion current; Remodeling; Repolarization; Vernakalant.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Anisoles / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / pharmacology*
  • Atrial Remodeling / drug effects*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial
  • Dogs
  • Goats
  • Heart Atria / drug effects*
  • Heart Atria / metabolism
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology*
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological / drug effects*
  • Sodium Channel Blockers / pharmacology


  • Anisoles
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • vernakalant