Of all known arrhythmia's, atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most often met in the clinical setting and it is associated with an increase in mortality risk. Several risk factors for AF have been described and several mechanisms of induction and maintenance have been proposed. Studies in patients with AF have shown that structural changes occur in the atria, but the relationship between the structural remodelling and the chronicity of the arrhythmia are not well understood. The changes mainly concern adaptive (dedifferentiation of cardiomyocytes) and maladaptive (degeneration of cells with replacement fibrosis) features. In order to characterise the time course of the structural remodelling the need for animal models which adequately mimic chronic atrial fibrillation in humans is felt essential. In this review, the structural changes that are observed during prolonged sustained AF in patients and animal models, are described. Furthermore, the time course and potential mechanisms of structural remodelling are discussed and methods for elucidation of the underlying molecular mechanisms are presented.
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 31 Mar 2000|