Atrial sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve sprouting and hyperinnervation induced by subthreshold electrical stimulation of the left stellate ganglion in normal dogs

Moshe Swissa, Shengmei Zhou, Alex Y. Tan, Michael C. Fishbein, Peng Sheng Chen, Lan S. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Background: Subthreshold electrical stimulation of the left stellate ganglion (LSG) can induce nerve sprouting and sympathetic hyperinnervation in canine ventricles. It is unclear whether a similar neural plasticity involving both sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation also exists in the atria. Methods and Results: We applied subthreshold electrical stimulation at 20 Hz (0.45 ms pulse width) or 5 Hz (1.9 ms pulse width) to the LSG in 6 normal mongrel dogs. After 41±9 days, the hearts were harvested and the right and left atrium stained for synaptophysin (SYN), growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43), sympathetic nerve markers tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and parasympathetic marker choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). Tissues from 6 additional healthy dogs were used as controls. The hearts from dogs with LSG electrical stimulation had a higher density of nerve structures immunopositive to the SYN, GAP43, TH, and ChAT (P<.01) in both right and left atria. Nerve density was equal in right and left atria. There were more TH-positive nerve structures than ChAT-positive nerve structures (P<.01) for both right and left atria. No atrial arrhythmia was observed at the second surgery. Conclusions: Continuous subthreshold electrical stimulation to the LSG induces both sympathetic and parasympathetic hyperinnervation in both right and left atria in normal dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-308
Number of pages6
JournalCardiovascular Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Electrophysiology
  • Nerve sprouting
  • Nervous system
  • Pacing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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