Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is an important contributor to ventricular hypertrophy and failure, which are associated with arrhythmogenesis and sudden death. To elucidate the mechanism(s) underlying the arrhythmogenic effects of ET-1 we tested the hypothesis that long-term (24 hrs) exposure to ET-1 impairs impulse conduction in cultures of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVM). NRVM were seeded on micro-electrode-arrays (MEAs, Multi Channel Systems, Reutlingen, Germany) and exposed to 50 nM ET-1 for 24 hrs. Hypertrophy was assessed by morphological and molecular methods. Consecutive recordings of paced activation times from the same cultures were conducted at baseline and after 3, 6 and 24 hrs, and activation maps for each time period constructed. Gap junctional Cx43 expression was assessed using Western blot and confocal microscopy of immunofluorescence staining using anti-Cx43 antibodies. ET-1 caused hypertrophy as indicated by a 70% increase in mRNA for atrial natriuretic peptide (P < 0.05), and increased cell areas (P < 0.05) compared to control. ET-1 also caused a time-dependent decrease in conduction velocity that was evident after 3 hrs of exposure to ET-1, and was augmented at 24 hrs, compared to controls (P < 0.01). ET-1 increased total Cx43 protein by ∼40% (P < 0.05) without affecting non- phosphorylated Cx43 (NP-Cx43) protein expression. Quantitative confocal microscopy showed a ∼30% decrease in the Cx43 immunofluorescence per field in the ET-1 group (P < 0.05) and a reduced field stain intensity (P < 0.05), compared to controls. ET-1-induced hypertrophy was accompanied by reduction in conduction velocity and gap junctional remodelling. The reduction in conduction velocity may play a role in ET-1 induced susceptibility to arrhythmogenesis.
- Conduction velocity
- Connexin 43
- Neonatal rat ventricular myocytes