TGFβ Is Specifically Upregulated on Circulating CD14++ CD16+ and CD14+ CD16++ Monocytes in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation and Severe Atrial Fibrosis

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;49(1):226-234. doi: 10.1159/000492873. Epub 2018 Aug 28.


Background/aims: Fibrotic remodeling of the atria plays a key role in the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation (AF). As little is known about the contribution of circulating monocytes in atrial remodeling and the pathophysiology of AF, we investigated profibrotic factors in different subsets of circulating monocytes obtained from patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing catheter ablation.

Methods: A 3D high density voltage mapping was performed in sinus rhythm to evaluate the extent of low-voltage areas (LVAs) in the atria of 71 patients with persistent AF. Low-voltage was defined as signals of < 0.5mV during sinus rhythm. Prior to ablation, blood was drawn and monocytes were analyzed by FACS. Based on the expression of CD14 and CD16, three subgroups including CD14++ CD16- ('classical'), CD14++ CD16+ ('intermediate'), and CD14+ CD16++ ('non-classical') were analyzed for the expression of TGFb, CD147, and MMP-9, representing pivotal profibrotic pathways in myocardial remodeling.

Results: Expression of TGFb was increased in CD14+ monocytes of patients with extensive LVAs compared to patients with a low extend of LVAs. While CD14++ CD16- monocytes showed no difference, CD14++ CD16+ and CD14+ CD16++ monocytes showed a strong increase of TGFb abundance. Although CD147 and MMP-9 are strongly associated with myocardial fibrosis, we found no difference in expression between the two groups in any monocyte subsets.

Conclusion: TGFb is specifically upregulated on CD14++ CD16+ and CD14+ CD16++ monocytes in patients with extensive LVAs undergoing catheter ablation.

Keywords: Atrial Fibrosis; Atrial fibrillation; EMMPRIN; Matrix metalloproteinases; Monocyte subsets; ablation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / immunology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / pathology*
  • Basigin / metabolism
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • BSG protein, human
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Basigin
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9