Inhibition of N-type Ca2+ channels ameliorates an imbalance in cardiac autonomic nerve activity and prevents lethal arrhythmias in mice with heart failure

Yuko Yamada, Hideyuki Kinoshita, Koichiro Kuwahara, Yasuaki Nakagawa, Yoshihiro Kuwabara, Takeya Minami, Chinatsu Yamada, Junko Shibata, Kazuhiro Nakao, Kosai Cho, Yuji Arai, Shinji Yasuno, Toshio Nishikimi, Kenji Ueshima, Shiro Kamakura, Motohiro Nishida, Shigeki Kiyonaka, Yasuo Mori, Takeshi Kimura, Kenji KangawaKazuwa Nakao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aims Dysregulation of autonomic nervous system activity can trigger ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death in patients with heart failure. N-type Ca2+ channels (NCCs) play an important role in sympathetic nervous system activation by regulating the calcium entry that triggers release of neurotransmitters from peripheral sympathetic nerve terminals. We have investigated the ability of NCC blockade to prevent lethal arrhythmias associated with heart failure. Methods and results We compared the effects of cilnidipine, a dual N- and L-type Ca2+ channel blocker, with those of nitrendipine, a selective L-type Ca2+ channel blocker, in transgenic mice expressing a cardiac-specific, dominant-negative form of neuron-restrictive silencer factor (dnNRSF-Tg). In this mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy leading to sudden arrhythmic death, cardiac structure and function did not significantly differ among the control, cilnidipine, and nitrendipine groups. However, cilnidipine dramatically reduced arrhythmias in dnNRSF-Tg mice, significantly improving their survival rate and correcting the imbalance between cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity. A β-blocker, bisoprolol, showed similar effects in these mice. Genetic titration of NCCs, achieved by crossing dnNRSF-Tg mice with mice lacking CACNA1B, which encodes the α1 subunit of NCCs, improved the survival rate. With restoration of cardiac autonomic balance, dnNRSF-Tg;CACNA1B+/- mice showed fewer malignant arrhythmias than dnNRSF-Tg;CACNA1B+/+ mice. Conclusions Both pharmacological blockade of NCCs and their genetic titration improved cardiac autonomic balance and prevented lethal arrhythmias in a mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy and sudden arrhythmic death. Our findings suggest that NCC blockade is a potentially useful approach to preventing sudden death in patients with heart failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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