Atrial fibrillation (AF) is prevalent in patients with obesity and diabetes, and such patients often exhibit cardiac steatosis. Since the role of cardiac steatosis per se in the induction of AF has not been elucidated, the present study was designed to explore the relation between cardiac steatosis and AF. Transgenic (Tg) mice with cardiac-specific overexpression of perilipin 2 (PLIN2) were housed in the laboratory for more than 12 months before the study. Electron microscopy of the atrium of PLIN2-Tg mice showed accumulation of small lipid droplets around mitochondrial chains, and 5- to 9-fold greater atrial triacylglycerol (TAG) content compared to wildtype (Wt) mice. Electrocardiography showed significantly longer RR intervals in PLIN2-Tg mice than Wt mice. Transesophageal electrical burst pacing resulted in significantly higher prevalence of sustained (>5 min) AF (69%) in PLIN2-Tg mice than Wt mice (24%), although it was comparable in younger (4-month-old) mice. Connexin 43 (Cx43), a gap junction protein, was localized at the intercalated discs in Wt atria, but was heterogeneously distributed on the lateral side of cardiomyocytes in PLIN2-Tg atria. Langendorff-perfused hearts using the optical mapping technique showed slower and heterogeneous impulse propagation in PLIN2-Tg atria compared with Wt atria. Cardiac overexpression of hormone-sensitive lipase in PLIN2-Tg mice resulted in atrial TAG depletion and amelioration of AF susceptibility. The results suggest that PLIN2-induced steatosis is associated with Cx43 remodeling, impaired conduction propagation, and higher incidence of AF in aged mice. Therapies targeting cardiac steatosis could be potentially beneficial against AF in patients with obesity or diabetes.
View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpendo.00227.2019
View details for PubMedID 31661297