Dissecting the Molecular Mechanisms Driving Electropathology in Atrial Fibrillation: Deployment of RNA Sequencing and Transcriptomic Analyses

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Despite many efforts to treat atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common progressive and age-related cardiac tachyarrhythmia in the Western world, the efficacy is still suboptimal. A plausible reason for this is that current treatments are not directed at underlying molecular root causes that drive electrical conduction disorders and AF (i.e., electropathology). Insights into AF-induced transcriptomic alterations may aid in a deeper understanding of electropathology. Specifically, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) facilitates transcriptomic analyses and discovery of differences in gene expression profiles between patient groups. In the last decade, various RNA-seq studies have been conducted in atrial tissue samples of patients with AF versus controls in sinus rhythm. Identified differentially expressed molecular pathways so far include pathways related to mechanotransduction, ECM remodeling, ion channel signaling, and structural tissue organization through developmental and inflammatory signaling pathways. In this review, we provide an overview of the available human AF RNA-seq studies and highlight the molecular pathways identified. Additionally, a comparison is made between human RNA-seq findings with findings from experimental AF model systems and we discuss contrasting findings. Finally, we elaborate on new exciting RNA-seq approaches, including single-nucleotide variants, spatial transcriptomics and profiling of different populations of total RNA, small RNA and long non-coding RNA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2242
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • RNA sequencing
  • atrial fibrillation
  • pathophysiology
  • transcriptomics

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