What is the role of inflammatory cells in the atrial myocardium in atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF)?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Another observed morphologic feature related to AF is the presence of inflammatory cells in the atrial myocardium. [8] The role of inflammation and myocardial inflammatory infiltrate was suggested by morphologic studies on atrial tissue removed at the time of cardiac surgery and by clinical studies that monitored serum levels of inflammatory cytokines in patients with AF. [14, 15] Despite the observed association between elevated plasma levels of inflammatory markers and AF, it remains unknown whether inflammation is a systemic or local phenomenon reflecting an active inflammatory process in the atria. [14] It is also not known whether the inflammatory cells are a marker of local reaction to tissue injury caused by factors leading to AF or whether they actively participate in the maintenance of AF due to direct cytotoxic or profibrotic effects or due to indirect effects from released cytokines that may promote arrhythmogenesis. [16]

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