Conduction disturbances frequently accompany both acute and chronic Chagas' disease. To explore the possibility that changes in gap junction distribution or abundance might play a role in these disturbances, we have investigated intercellular communication between rat neonatal cardiac myocytes in cultures infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Contractile activity of infected cells was characterized by regional asynchrony within the culture as well as by irregular contraction patterns. Junctional conductance between infected cell pairs was found to be significantly lower than in uninfected cell pairs, and the rapidity and extent of intercellular transfer of the dye lucifer yellow was markedly reduced between infected cells. Immunocytochemical studies demonstrated that the parasitic infection significantly decreased connexin43 expression at junctional membrane regions, correlating with the detected functional uncoupling. These findings of reduced gap junction abundance and function in trypanosome-infected cells may provide important insight into the pathogenesis of the cardiac arrhythmias that attend Chagas' disease.
- Chagas' disease
- chagasic cardiomyopathy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine