Atrial Fibrillation

  • Ann-Kathrin Rahm
  • Hugo A. Katus
  • Dierk ThomasEmail author
Part of the Cardiac and Vascular Biology book series (Abbreviated title: Card. vasc. biol.)


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in clinical routine. AF is related to significant morbidity and mortality caused by thromboembolism, tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, and heart failure. The pathophysiological mechanisms leading to AF initiation and progression are complex.

Pedigrees of AF families enabled the identification of genetic factors predisposing to AF. In genotyped families, AF patients carry rare genetic variants in genes associated with ion channels, calcium handling protein, or genes related to fibrosis, conduction system disease, and inflammatory processes. Furthermore, common genetic variants have been linked directly to AF. However, in most cases the molecular mechanisms by which single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) enhance AF susceptibility remain to be identified.

Optimized understanding of the molecular basis and genetics of AF will help to optimize risk stratification and therapeutic management of AF patients and lead to new therapeutic approaches in treating this epidemic disease.


Arrhythmogenesis Atrial fibrillation Electrophysiology Genetics Ion channel 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This work was supported in part by grants from the University of Heidelberg, Faculty of Medicine (Physician Scientist Scholarship to A.K.R.) and the German Cardiac Society (DGK Research Scholarship to A.K.R,), from the German Cardiac Society and the Hengstberger Foundation (Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Scholarship to D.T.), from the German Heart Foundation/German Foundation of Heart Research (F/08/14 to D.T.), from the Joachim Siebenreicher Foundation (to D.T.), and from the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts, Baden-Wuerttemberg (Sonderlinie Medizin to D.T.).

Conflict of Interest

D.T. reports receiving lecture fees/honoraria from Bayer Vital, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Medtronic, Pfizer Pharma, Sanofi-Aventis, St. Jude Medical, and ZOLL CMS, and research grant support from Daiichi Sankyo. H.A.K. and D.T. filed a patent application for the use of K2P potassium channels for altering cardiac electrophysiology.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann-Kathrin Rahm
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hugo A. Katus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dierk Thomas
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cardiology and HCR (Heidelberg Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders)University Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research)partner site Heidelberg/Mannheim, HeidelbergGermany

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