Table_4_Transcriptomic Bioinformatic Analyses of Atria Uncover Involvement of Pathways Related to Strain and Post-translational Modification of Collagen in Increased Atrial Fibrillation Vulnerability in Intensely Exercised Mice.XLSX
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common supraventricular tachyarrhythmia that is typically associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and poor cardiovascular health. Paradoxically, endurance athletes are also at risk for AF. While it is well-established that persistent AF is associated with atrial fibrosis, hypertrophy and inflammation, intensely exercised mice showed similar adverse atrial changes and increased AF vulnerability, which required tumor necrosis factor (TNF) signaling, even though ventricular structure and function improved. To identify some of the molecular factors underlying the chamber-specific and TNF-dependent atrial changes induced by exercise, we performed transcriptome analyses of hearts from wild-type and TNF-knockout mice following exercise for 2 days, 2 or 6 weeks of exercise. Consistent with the central role of atrial stretch arising from elevated venous pressure in AF promotion, all 3 time points were associated with differential regulation of genes in atria linked to mechanosensing (focal adhesion kinase, integrins and cell-cell communications), extracellular matrix (ECM) and TNF pathways, with TNF appearing to play a permissive, rather than causal, role in gene changes. Importantly, mechanosensing/ECM genes were only enriched, along with tubulin- and hypertrophy-related genes after 2 days of exercise while being downregulated at 2 and 6 weeks, suggesting that early reactive strain-dependent remodeling with exercise yields to compensatory adjustments. Moreover, at the later time points, there was also downregulation of both collagen genes and genes involved in collagen turnover, a pattern mirroring aging-related fibrosis. By comparison, twofold fewer genes were differentially regulated in ventricles vs. atria, independently of TNF. Our findings reveal that exercise promotes TNF-dependent atrial transcriptome remodeling of ECM/mechanosensing pathways, consistent with increased preload and atrial stretch seen with exercise. We propose that similar preload-dependent mechanisms are responsible for atrial changes and AF in both CVD patients and athletes.