Early left atrial tissue features in patients with chronic mitral regurgitation and sinus rhythm: Alterations of not remodeled left atria

Chiara Foglieni, Raffaella Rusconi, Maria Elena Mantione, Gabriele Fragasso, Ottavio Alfieri, Francesco Maisano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Left atrial (LA) enlargement, a compensatory mechanism in chronic mitral regurgitation (MR) increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) and predictive of cardiac events, involves structural alterations. We characterized LA features in patients in sinus rhythm with severe degree of MR, similar degrees of left ventricular remodeling but divergent LA size. Methods Among a consecutive series of 163 patients in stable sinus rhythm undergoing isolated mitral valve surgery for severe non-rheumatic MR, two groups were arbitrarily selected according to their LA size (antero-posterior): NRLA group (non-remodeled LA) included 8 patients with LA ≤ 40 mm, RLA group (remodeled LA) included 8 patients with LA > 55 mm. LA biopsies were processed for paraffin inclusion and sectioning. Fibrosis, cardiomyocytes morphology, capillaries density, cytochrome c and F-actin expression were evaluated by microscopy. Results Histology and immunohistochemistry demonstrated alteration of moderate entity: higher amounts of endomysial fibrosis (not of collagen type III) and of hypertrophic cardiomyocytes in RLA than in NRLA. Confocal microscopy displayed focally disorganized F-actin and no nuclear fragmentation in both groups, but more intra-cytoplasm cytochrome c in RLA vs. NRLA, possibly indicative of more successful escape to apoptosis by NRLA cardiomyocytes. Conclusions Our study shows the presence of early cellular and interstitial alterations in LA tissue in patients with chronic MR and sinus rhythm. These features were analogous to those of patients with AF, and suggest that macroscopic remodeling LA in the settings of MR is preceded by structural changes, paving the way to further investigation on the preventive role of early mitral valve repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 2016


  • Atrial remodeling
  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Left atrium
  • Mitral regurgitation
  • Sinus rhythm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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