Myocardial infarction (MI) can result in sympathetic nerve loss in the infarct region. However, the contribution of hypo-innervation to electrophysiological remodeling, independent from MI-induced ischemia and fibrosis, has not been comprehensively investigated. We present a novel mouse model of regional cardiac sympathetic hypo-innervation utilizing a targeted-toxin (dopamine beta-hydroxylase antibody conjugated to saporin, DBH-Sap), and measure resulting electrophysiological and Ca2+ handling dynamics. Five days post-surgery, sympathetic nerve density was reduced in the anterior left ventricular epicardium of DBH-Sap hearts compared to control. In Langendorff-perfused hearts, there were no differences in mean action potential duration (APD80) between groups; however, isoproterenol (ISO) significantly shortened APD80 in DBH-Sap but not control hearts, resulting in a significant increase in APD80 dispersion in the DBH-Sap group. ISO also produced spontaneous diastolic Ca2+ elevation in DBH-Sap but not control hearts. In innervated hearts, sympathetic nerve stimulation (SNS) increased heart rate to a lesser degree in DBH-Sap hearts compared to control. Additionally, SNS produced APD80 prolongation in the apex of control but not DBH-Sap hearts. These results suggest that hypo-innervated hearts have regional super-sensitivity to circulating adrenergic stimulation (ISO), while having blunted responses to SNS, providing important insight into the mechanisms of arrhythmogenesis following sympathetic nerve loss.
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