Impact of vagal nerve stimulation on left atrial structure and function in a canine high-rate pacing model

Kenya Kusunose, Youhua Zhang, Todor N. Mazgalev, David R. Van Wagoner, James D. Thomas, Zoran B. Popović*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background-Cervical vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) can improve left ventricular dysfunction in the setting of heart failure (HF). However, little is known about the impact of VNS on left atrial (LA) function. The aim of this study was to compare LA mechanics and histology between control and VNS-treated animals during HF development. Methods and Results-Fifteen mongrel dogs were randomized into control (n=7) and VNS (n=8) groups. All dogs underwent 8 weeks of high-rate ventricular pacing (at 220 beats per minute for the first 4 weeks to develop HF and another 4 weeks at 180 beats per minute to maintain HF). LA contractile function (LA negative peak strain), conduit function (LA positive peak strain), and reservoir function (LA total strain) were measured from speckle tracking in 2 groups. At the end of the terminal study, the LA appendage was obtained. Baseline LA strains were comparable in the control and VNS-treated dogs. At 4 and 8 weeks of ventricular pacing, all LA strains were decreased and LA volumes were increased in the control group compared with the VNS group (P<0.05). Histological evaluation of the left atrium revealed that percent fibrosis was significantly lower in the VNS versus the control group (8±1% versus 13±1%; P<0.001). Finally, transmitral flow showed decreased atrial contribution to left ventricular filling in the control group (P<0.05). Conclusions-VNS improved LA function and volumes and suppressed LA fibrosis in the canine high-rate ventricular pacing model. VNS is a novel and potentially useful therapy for improving LA function during HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation: Heart Failure
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Atrial function
  • Left
  • Vagus nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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