Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia in clinical practice. AF and its complications are responsible for important population morbidity and mortality. Presently available therapeutic approaches have limited efficacy and nontrivial potential to cause adverse effects. Thus, new mechanistic knowledge is essential for therapeutic innovation. Atrial arrhythmogenic remodeling, defined as any change in atrial structure or function that promotes atrial arrhythmias, is central to AF. Remodeling can be due to underlying cardiac conditions, systemic processes and conditions such as aging, or AF itself. Recent work has underlined the importance of remodeling in AF, provided new insights into basic mechanisms, and identified new biomarker/imaging approaches to follow remodeling processes. The importance of intracellular Ca2+ handling abnormalities has been highlighted, both for the induction of triggered ectopic activity and for the activation of Ca2+-related cell signaling that mediates profibrillatory remodeling. The importance of microRNAs, which are a new class of small noncoding sequences that regulate gene expression, has emerged in both electrical and structural remodeling. Remodeling related to aging, cardiac disease, and AF itself is believed to underlie the progressive nature of the arrhythmia, which contributes to the complexities of long-term management. New tools that are being developed to quantify remodeling processes and monitor their progression include novel biomarkers, imaging modalities to quantify/localize fibrosis, and noninvasive monitoring/mapping to better characterize the burden of AF and identify arrhythmic sources. This report reviews recent advances in the understanding of the basic pathophysiology of atrial remodeling and potential therapeutic implications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine