New Research Finds Cells that Trigger Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

October 21, 2009 5:21 AM CT

By Peggy Noonan

Afib is the most common irregular heartbeat but its cause hasn’t been clear. Now new research on humans and mice, just published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has found a cell that may trigger afib.

Like the skin cells called melanocytes that make pigment, these cells make an enzyme called DCT (dopachrome tautomerase) that synthesizes the pigment melanin. Research suggests that dysfunction in these cells in the heart’s upper chambers, the atria, and in the pulmonary veins connecting to the atria may actually contribute to atrial fibrillation.

More studies are needed to broaden our understanding of how these cells trigger atrial arrhythmias, which could lead to more effective atrial fibrillation treatment.

To read more about the study, see:

Peggy Noonan specializes in writing about health for consumers and medical professionals. She writes for leading national magazines and consumer publications as well as