Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common agerelated cardiac arrhythmia accounting for one-third of hospitalisations. Treatment of AF is difficult, which is rooted in the progressive nature of electrical and structural remodelling, called electropathology, which makes the atria more vulnerable for AF. Importantly, structural damage of the myocardium is already present when AF is diagnosed for the first time. Currently, no effective therapy is known that can resolve this damage. Previously, we observed that exhaustion of cardioprotective heat shock proteins (HSPs) contributes to structural damage in AF patients. Also, boosting of HSPs, by the heat shock factor-1 activator geranylgeranylacetone, halted AF initiation and progression in experimental cardiomyocyte and dog models for AF. However, it is still unclear whether induction of HSPs also prolongs the arrhythmia-free interval after, for example, cardioversion of AF. In this review, we discuss the role of HSPs in the pathophysiology of AF and give an outline of the HALT&REVERSE project, initiated by the HALT&REVERSE Consortium and the AF Innovation Platform. This project will elucidate whether HSPs (1) reverse cardiomyocyte electropathology and thereby halt AF initiation and progression and (2) represent novel biomarkers that predict the outcome of AF conversion and/or occurrence of post-surgery AF.

Atrial fibrillation, Electropathology, Geranylgeranylacetone, Heat shock proteins, Mapping,
Netherlands Heart Journal
Department of Cardiology

Lanters, E.A.H, Van Marion, D.M.S, Steen, H, de Groot, N.M.S, & Brundel, B.J.J.M. (2015). The future of atrial fibrillation therapy: Intervention on heat shock proteins influencing electropathology is the next in line. Netherlands Heart Journal, 23(6), 327–333. doi:10.1007/s12471-015-0699-0