Indexed on: 15 Apr '15Published on: 15 Apr '15Published in: Cardiology
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a highly prevalent condition associated with pronounced cardiovascular-related morbidity, mortality and socioeconomic burden. It accounts for more hospitalization days than does any other arrhythmia. This article reviews the basic electrophysiology of AF, electrical and structural remodeling in AF and recent advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms of AF in relation to specific microRNAs. This paper also reviews the potential role of microRNAs as novel therapeutic targets as well as biomarkers in the management of AF. AF shows characteristics typical of altered electrophysiology that promote ectopic activity and facilitate reentry, thereby contributing to the progression from short paroxysmal AF to a persistent, permanent form via atrial remodeling, even in the absence of progressive underlying heart disease. MicroRNAs have been suggested to influence the development of AF by regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Increasing evidence has identified various microRNA modifications and their impacts on AF initiation and maintenance through electrical and structural remodeling. The discovery of specific microRNAs as novel therapeutic targets and some experimental evidence implicating microRNAs as potential molecular diagnostic markers have had a significant impact on the diagnosis and management of AF and demand further research.