Inhibition of N-type calcium channels in cardiac sympathetic neurons attenuates ventricular arrhythmogenesis in heart failure

Dongze Zhang, Huiyin Tu, Chaojun Wang, Liang Cao, Wenfeng Hu, Bryan T. Hackfort, Robert L. Muelleman, Michael C. Wadman, Yu Long Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Aims: Cardiac sympathetic overactivation is an important trigger of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Our previous study demonstrated that N-type calcium (Cav2.2) currents in cardiac sympathetic post-ganglionic (CSP) neurons were increased in CHF. This study investigated the contribution of Cav2.2 channels in cardiac sympathetic overactivation and ventricular arrhythmogenesis in CHF. Methods and results: Rat CHF was induced by surgical ligation of the left coronary artery. Lentiviral Cav2.2-α shRNA or scrambled shRNA was transfected in vivo into stellate ganglia (SG) in CHF rats. Final experiments were performed at 14 weeks after coronary artery ligation. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blot data showed that in vivo transfection of Cav2.2-α shRNA reduced the expression of Cav2.2-α mRNA and protein in the SG in CHF rats. Cav2.2-α shRNA also reduced Cav2.2 currents and cell excitability of CSP neurons and attenuated cardiac sympathetic nerve activities (CSNA) in CHF rats. The power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) further revealed that transfection of Cav2.2-α shRNA in the SG normalized CHF-caused cardiac sympathetic overactivation in conscious rats. Twenty-four-hour continuous telemetry electrocardiogram recording revealed that this Cav2.2-α shRNA not only decreased incidence and duration of ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation but also improved CHF-induced heterogeneity of ventricular electrical activity in conscious CHF rats. Cav2.2-α shRNA also decreased susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias in anaesthetized CHF rats. However, Cav2.2-α shRNA failed to improve CHF-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction. Scrambled shRNA did not affect Cav2.2 currents and cell excitability of CSP neurons, CSNA, HRV, and ventricular arrhythmogenesis in CHF rats. Conclusions: Overactivation of Cav2.2 channels in CSP neurons contributes to cardiac sympathetic hyperactivation and ventricular arrhythmogenesis in CHF. This suggests that discovering purely selective and potent small-molecule Cav2.2 channel blockers could be a potential therapeutic strategy to decrease fatal ventricular arrhythmias in CHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Cardiac sympathetic post-ganglionic neurons
  • Chronic heart failure
  • N-type calcium channel
  • Stellate ganglia
  • Ventricular arrhythmias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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