Phenanthrene impacts zebrafish cardiomyocyte excitability by inhibiting IKr and shorting action potential duration

Shiva Nag Kompella, Fabien Brette, Jules C Hancox, Holly Shiels

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Air pollution is an environmental hazard that is associated with cardiovascular dysfunction. Phenanthrene is a three-ringed poly-aromatic hydrocarbon that is a significant component of air pollution and crude oil and has been shown to cause cardiac dysfunction in marine fishes. We investigated the cardiotoxic effects of phenanthrene in zebrafish (D. rerio), an animal model relevant to human cardiac electrophysiology, using whole-cell patch-clamp of ventricular cardiomyocytes. First, we show that phenanthrene significantly shortened action potential duration, without altering resting membrane potential or upstroke velocity (dV/dt). L- type calcium current was significantly decreased by phenanthrene, consistent with the decrease in action potential duration. Phenanthrene blocked the hERG ortholog (zfERG) native current, IKr, and accelerated IKr deactivation kinetics in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, we show that phenanthrene significantly inhibits the protective IKr current envelope, elicited by a paired ventricular AP-like command waveform protocol. Phenanthrene had no effect on other IK. These findings demonstrate that exposure to phenanthrene shortens action potential duration, which may reduce refractoriness and increase susceptibility to certain arrhythmia triggers, such as premature ventricular contractions. These data also reveal a previously unrecognized mechanism of poly-aromatic hydrocarbon cardiotoxicity on zfERG, by accelerating deactivation and decreasing IKr protective current.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Dec 2020

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