Diet-induced pre-diabetes slows cardiac conductance and promotes arrhythmogenesis

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BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes is associated with abnormal electrical conduction and sudden cardiac death, but the pathogenic mechanism remains unknown. This study describes electrophysiological alterations in a diet-induced pre-diabetic rat model and examines the underlying mechanism.

METHODS: Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either high-fat diet and fructose water or normal chow and water for 6 weeks. The electrophysiological properties of the whole heart was analyzed by in vivo surface ECG recordings, as wells as ex vivo in Langendorff perfused hearts during baseline, ischemia and reperfussion. Conduction velocity was examined in isolated tissue strips. Ion channel and gap junction conductances were analyzed by patch-clamp studies in isolated cardiomyocytes. Fibrosis was examined by Masson's Trichrome staining and thin-layer chromatography was used to analyze cardiac lipid content. Connexin43 (Cx43) expression and distribution was examined by western blotting and immunofluorescence respectively.

RESULTS: Following 6 weeks of feeding, fructose-fat fed rats (FFFRs) showed QRS prolongation compared to controls (16.1 ± 0.51 (n = 6) vs. 14.7 ± 0.32 ms (n = 4), p < 0.05). Conduction velocity was slowed in FFFRs vs. controls (0.62 ± 0.02 (n = 13) vs. 0.79 ± 0.06 m/s (n = 11), p < 0.05) and Langendorff perfused FFFR hearts were more prone to ventricular fibrillation during reperfusion following ischemia (p < 0.05). The patch-clamp studies revealed no changes in Na(+) or K(+) currents, cell capacitance or gap junctional coupling. Cx43 expression was also unaltered in FFFRs, but immunofluorescence demonstrated an increased fraction of Cx43 localized at the intercalated discs in FFFRs compared to controls (78 ± 3.3 (n = 5) vs. 60 ± 4.2 % (n = 6), p < 0.01). No fibrosis was detected but FFFRs showed a significant increase in cardiac triglyceride content (1.93 ± 0.19 (n = 12) vs. 0.77 ± 0.13 nmol/mg (n = 12), p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: Six weeks on a high fructose-fat diet cause electrophysiological changes, which leads to QRS prolongation, decreased conduction velocity and increased arrhythmogenesis during reperfusion. These alterations are not explained by altered gap junctional coupling, Na(+), or K(+) currents, differences in cell size or fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2015

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