BACKGROUND: Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) secretome induces fibrosis. Fibrosis, primarily extracellular matrix (ECM) produced by fibroblasts, creates a substrate for atrial fibrillation (AF). Whether the EAT secretome from patients with AF activates human atrial fibroblasts and through which components, remains unexplored.

RESEARCH AIMS: (a) To investigate if the EAT secretome from patients with versus without AF increases ECM production in atrial fibroblasts. (b) To identify profibrotic proteins and processes in the EAT secretome and EAT from patients with, who will develop (future onset), and without AF.

METHODS: Atrial EAT was obtainded during thoracoscopic ablation (AF, n = 20), or open-heart surgery (future onset and non-AF, n = 35). ECM gene expression of human atrial fibroblasts exposed to the EAT secretome and the proteomes of EAT secretome and EAT were assessed in patients with and without AF. Myeloperoxidase and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) were assessed immunohistochemically in patients with paroxysmal, persistent, future onset, and those who remain free of AF (non-AF).

RESULTS: The expression of COL1A1 and FN1 in fibroblasts exposed to secretome from patients with AF was 3.7 and 4.7 times higher than in patients without AF (p < 0.05). Myeloperoxidase was the most increased protein in the EAT secretome and EAT from patients with versus without AF (FC 18.07 and 21.57, p < 0.005), as was the gene-set neutrophil degranulation. Immunohistochemically, myeloperoxidase was highest in persistent (FC 13.3, p < 0.0001) and increased in future onset AF (FC 2.4, p = 0.02) versus non-AF. Myeloperoxidase aggregated subepicardially and around fibrofatty infiltrates. NETs were increased in patients with persistent versus non-AF (p = 0.03).

CONCLUSION: In AF, the EAT secretome induces ECM gene expression in atrial fibroblasts and contains abundant myeloperoxidase. EAT myeloperoxidase was increased prior to AF onset, and both myeloperoxidase and NETs were highest in persistent AF, highlighting the role of EAT neutrophils in the pathophysiology of AF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number366
Pages (from-to)366
JournalJournal of translational medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2023


  • Adipose Tissue/metabolism
  • Atrial Fibrillation/metabolism
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart Atria/pathology
  • Humans
  • Pericardium/metabolism
  • Peroxidase/metabolism

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