To investigate the effect of the mutual regulation of the extrinsic cardiac nerves on atrial electrophysiology and atrial fibrillation (AF) vulnerability.Methods and results:
Fourteen dogs were randomly divided into two groups: spinal cord stimulation (SCS) group (n = 7) and spinal cord block (SCB) group (n = 7). SCS was performed with 90% of the threshold voltage stimulating the T1–T2 spinal level, while SCB was performed by injecting 2% lidocaine into the epidural space at the T2–3 level. The effective refractory period (ERP), ERP dispersion, and AF inducibility were measured during atrial pacing combined with different extrinsic cardiac nerve stimulation. ERPs were decreased in the atrium and pulmonary veins and ERP dispersion was increased from baseline during left cervical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) or left stellate ganglion stimulation (SGS) in the two groups. When combined with SCS, VNS resulted in diminished ERPs at all recording sites, longer ERP dispersion and more episodes of AF than were observed during VNS, whereas ERPs were greater and correspondingly fewer episodes of AF occurred during SCS combined with SGS than SGS. In the SCB group, ERPs were shortened, ERP dispersion was lengthened, and episodes of AF were increased during SGS after SCB. SCS enhanced the activity of the left vagus nerve but attenuated the left stellate ganglion and superior left ganglionated plexus.Conclusion:
SCS modulates extrinsic and intrinsic cardiac nerve activity among the vagus nerve, stellate ganglion, and ganglionated plexus. SCS facilitates the effect of VNS and attenuates the effect of SGS on atrial electrophysiology.