Glucagon-like peptide-1 increases heart rate by a direct action on the sinus node

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

AIMS: Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) are increasingly used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. Albeit cardiovascular outcomes generally improve, treatment with GLP-1 RAs is associated with increased heart rate, the mechanism of which is unclear.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We employed a large animal model, the female landrace pig, and used multiple in-vivo and ex-vivo approaches including pharmacological challenges, electrophysiology and high-resolution mass spectrometry to explore how GLP-1 elicits an increase in heart rate. In anaesthetized pigs, neither cervical vagotomy, adrenergic blockers (alpha, beta or combined alpha-beta blockade), ganglionic blockade (hexamethonium) nor inhibition of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels (ivabradine) abolished the marked chronotropic effect of GLP-1. GLP-1 administration to isolated perfused pig hearts also increased heart rate, which was abolished by GLP-1 receptor blockade. Electrophysiological characterization of GLP-1 effects in vivo and in isolated perfused hearts localized electrical modulation to the atria and conduction system. In isolated sinus nodes, GLP-1 administration shortened action potential cycle length of pacemaker cells and shifted the site of earliest activation. The effect was independent of HCN blockade. Collectively, these data support a direct effect of GLP-1 on GLP-1 receptors within the heart. Consistently, single nucleus RNA sequencing (snRNAseq) showed GLP-1 receptor expression in porcine pacemaker cells. Quantitative phosphoproteomics analyses of sinus node samples revealed that GLP-1 administration leads to phosphorylation changes of calcium cycling proteins of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, known to regulate heart rate.

CONCLUSION: GLP-1 has direct chronotropic effects on the heart mediated by GLP-1 receptors in pacemaker cells of the sinus node, inducing changes in action potential morphology and the leading pacemaker site through a calcium signaling response characterized by PKA-dependent phosphorylation of Ca2+ cycling proteins involved in pace making. Targeting the pacemaker calcium clock may be a strategy to lower heart rate in GLP-1 RA recipients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCardiovascular Research
Number of pages15
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.

ID: 393859663