Angiotensinergic innervation of the human right atrium: implications for cardiac reflexes

Bohlender, Jürgen; Nussberger, Jürg; Tevaearai, Hendrik; Imboden, Hans (2018). Angiotensinergic innervation of the human right atrium: implications for cardiac reflexes. American journal of hypertension, 31(2), pp. 188-196. Oxford University Press 10.1093/ajh/hpx163

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Background: The right atrium is densely innervated and provides sensory input to important cardio-circulatory reflexes controlling cardiac output and blood pressure. Its angiotensin (Ang) II-expressing innervation may release Ang II as a neuropeptide co-transmitter to modulate reflexes but has not yet been characterized.
Methods: Intraoperative surgical biopsies from human right atria (n=7) were immunocytologically stained for Ang II, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and synaptophysin (SYN). Tissue angiotensins were extracted and quantified by radioimmunoassay.
Results: Angiotensinergic fibers were frequent in epicardial nerves and around vessels with variable TH co-localization (none to >50%/bundle). Fibers were also widely distributed between cardiomyocytes and in the endocardium where they were typically non-varicose, TH/SYN-negative and usually accompanied by varicose catecholaminergic fibers. In the endocardium, some showed large varicosities and were partially TH or SYN-positive. A few endocardial regions showed scattered non-varicose Ang fibers ending directly between endothelial cells. Occasional clusters of thin varicose terminals co-localizing SYN or TH were located underneath, or protruded into, the endothelium. Endocardial density of Ang and TH-positive fibers was 30–300 vs. 200–450/mm 2. Atrial Ang II, III and I concentrations were 67, 16 and 5 fmol/g (median) while Ang IV and V were mostly undetectable.
Conclusions: The human right atrium harbours an abundant angiotensinergic innervation and a novel potential source of atrial Ang II. Most peripheral fibers were non-catecholaminergic afferents or preterminal vagal efferents and a minority was presumably sympathetic. Neuronal Ang II release from these fibers may modulate cardiac and circulatory reflexes independently from plasma and tissue Ang II sources.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine
08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Emeriti, Faculty of Science

UniBE Contributor:

Bohlender, Jürgen, Tevaearai, Hendrik, Imboden, Johann


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Oxford University Press




Jürgen Bohlender

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2017 11:25

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:29

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

human, heart atria, angiotensin, innervation, sympathetic, cardiomyocyte




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