Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) is released from intracardiac neurons during vagal stimulation, ischemia, and heart failure, which are associated with increased vulnerability to atrial fibrillation. VIP shortens atrial effective refractory periods in dogs. Endogenous VIP contributes to vagally mediated acceleration of atrial electric remodeling. VIP is also shown to prolong the duration of acetylcholine-induced atrial fibrillation. However, the ionic mechanisms underlying VIP effects are largely unknown.Methods and Results—
The effects of VIP on transmembrane ion channels were studied in canine atrial cardiomyocytes using patch-clamp techniques. VIP increased delayed rectifier K+ current and L-type calcium current but decreased the transient outward K+ current and sodium current. Optical mapping technique was used to assess effects of VIP on action potential durations (APDs) in isolated canine left atria. VIP shortened APD and slowed conduction velocity in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, VIP increased spatial heterogeneity of APD and conduction velocity, as assessed by the SDs of APD and conduction velocity, and atrial fibrillation inducibility.Conclusions—
Through its diverse effects on ion channels, VIP shortens APD with increased APD spatial heterogeneity and decreases intra-atrial conduction velocity, which may play an important role in the pathogenesis of atrial arrhythmias in scenarios where VIP release is increased.