Reduced Cell Excitability of Cardiac Postganglionic Parasympathetic Neurons Correlates With Myocardial Infarction-Induced Fatal Ventricular Arrhythmias in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Wenfeng Hu, Dongze Zhang, Huiyin Tu, Yu Long Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Withdrawal of cardiac vagal activity is considered as one of the important triggers for acute myocardial infarction (MI)-induced ventricular arrhythmias in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Our previous study demonstrated that cell excitability of cardiac parasympathetic postganglionic (CPP) neurons was reduced in T2DM rats. This study investigated whether cell excitability of CPP neurons is associated with cardiac vagal activity and MI-induced ventricular arrhythmias in T2DM rats. Methods: Rat T2DM was induced by a high-fat diet plus streptozotocin injection. MI-evoked ventricular arrhythmia was achieved by surgical ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Twenty-four-hour, continuous ECG recording was used to quantify ventricular arrhythmic events and heart rate variability (HRV) in conscious rats. The power spectral analysis of HRV was used to evaluate autonomic function. Cell excitability of CPP neurons was measured by the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Results: Twenty-four-hour ECG data demonstrated that MI-evoked fatal ventricular arrhythmias are more severe in T2DM rats than that in sham rats. In addition, the Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that the survival rate over 2 weeks after MI is significantly lower in T2DM rats (15% in T2DM+MI) compared to sham rats (75% in sham+MI). The susceptibility to ventricular tachyarrhythmia elicited by programmed electrical stimulation was higher in anesthetized T2DM+MI rats than that in rats with MI or T2DM alone (7.0 ± 0.58 in T2DM+MI group vs. 3.5 ± 0.76 in sham+MI). Moreover, as an index for vagal control of ventricular function, changes of left ventricular systolic pressure (LVSP) and the maximum rate of increase of left ventricular pressure (LV dP/dtmax) in response to vagal efferent nerve stimulation were blunted in T2DM rats. Furthermore, T2DM increased heterogeneity of ventricular electrical activities and reduced cardiac parasympathetic activity and cell excitability of CPP neurons (current threshold-inducing action potentials being 62 ± 3.3 pA in T2DM rats without MI vs. 27 ± 1.9 pA in sham rats without MI). However, MI did not alter vagal control of the ventricular function and CPP neuronal excitability, although it also induced cardiac autonomic dysfunction and enhanced heterogeneity of ventricular electrical activities. Conclusion: The reduction of CPP neuron excitability is involved in decreased cardiac vagal function, including cardiac parasympathetic activity and vagal control of ventricular function, which is associated with MI-induced high mortality and malignant ventricular arrhythmias in T2DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number721364
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Aug 18 2021


  • action potential
  • cardiac autonomic neuropathy
  • cardiac vagal neuron
  • diabetes mellitus
  • heart rate variability
  • myocardial infarction
  • ventricular arrhythmias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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