Molecular Mechanism of the Association Between Atrial Fibrillation and Heart Failure Includes Energy Metabolic Dysregulation Due to Mitochondrial Dysfunction

J Card Fail. 2019 Nov;25(11):911-920. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2019.08.005. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF) commonly coexist, yet the molecular mechanisms of this association have not been determined. We hypothesized that an energy deficit due to mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role in pathogenic link between AF and HF.

Methods and results: Myocardial energy metabolism and mitochondria were examined in atrial tissue samples from patients and mice (cardiac-specific LKB1 knock-out) with HF and/or AF. There was significant atrial energy (ATP) deficit in patients with HF (11.5±1.3 nmol/mg, n=10; vs without HF 17±3.8 nmol/mg, n=5, P = .032). AF was associated with further energy depletion (ATP 5.4±1.2 nmol/mg, n=9) in HF (P = .001) and metabolic stress (AMP/ATP 1.6±0.1 vs 0.7±0.2 in HF alone; P = .043). The left atrium demonstrated lower ATP than the right (P = .004). Mitochondrial dysfunction and remodeling caused ATP depletion with impaired oxidative phosphorylation complexes (succinate dehydrogenase and cytochrome c oxidase), increased reactive oxygen species, and mtDNA damage in mice and human atria with AF and HF.

Conclusions: Molecular mechanisms of the association between HF and AF include an energy deficit due to mitochondrial dysfunction in atrial myocardium. Mitochondrial functional and structural remodeling in human and mouse atria is associated with energy metabolic dysregulation and oxidative stress that promote AF in HF and vice versa.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; energy metabolism; heart failure; mitochondria.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Atrial Fibrillation / metabolism*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / pathology
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / metabolism*
  • Heart Atria / pathology
  • Heart Atria / ultrastructure
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Heart Failure / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • Succinate Dehydrogenase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV