Inflammation and atrial fibrillation: Is Chlamydia pneumoniae a candidate pathogen of atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia, however, the mechanism of atrial fibrillation is not well explained. It has been considered that inflammation plays a role in atrial fibrillation, recently. Patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft are at high risk for developing postoperative atrial fibrillation. The peak levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were paralleled to the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation. In general population, CRP was also higher in patients with atrial fibrillation than in control people. Persistent atrial fibrillation patients had a higher CRP level than paroxysmal atrial fibrillation patients. CRP was not only associated with the presence of atrial fibrillation but may also predict patients at increased risk for future development of atrial fibrillation. Why inflammation markers in atrial fibrillation are high is a puzzling problem. We hypothesized that Chlamydia pneumoniae infection is a possible cause of atrial fibrillation by initiating inflammation response. It was demonstrated that infection of endothelial cells with C. pneumoniae elicited the production of Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1, interleukin-1, interleukin-8, interleukin-18, tumor necrosis factor, interferon and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule. Most of these cytokines play a crucial role in inflammation response that associate with the initiating and maintenance of atrial fibrillation. There are so many pathogens that can trigger inflammation. Some evidences showed that C. pneumoniae was the most likely pathogen of atrial fibrillation. In epidemic study, the incidence of atrial fibrillation increased from younger to elder and atrial fibrillation was more common in men than in women. C. pneumoniae has the same epidemic trend as the incidence of atrial fibrillation. Hypertension, myocardial infarction and reduced lung function are predictors of atrial fibrillation. C. pneumoniae infection is high in the patients with the above diseases. C. pneumoniae was found in endomyocardial biopsy samples, which supported C. pneumoniae was the candidate pathogen, too. Chlamydia infection can cause myocardial interstitial fibrosis and inflammation cells infiltration. The pathology characters of C. pneumoniae infection are similar to that found in atrial fibrillation. Seroepidemic study should be carried out to evaluate if there is relationship between C. pneumoniae and atrial fibrillation. If the hypothesis is confirmed, macrocyclic lactone antibiotics may be used to eliminate the pathogen. It will be a new target point to treat atrial fibrillation.Sign-in to see all concepts, it's free!