Human Pulmonary Vein Myocardial Sleeve Autonomic Neural Density and Cardiovascular Mortality

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Myocardial sleeves around pulmonary veins (PVs) are highly innervated structures with heterogeneous morphological and electrophysiological characteristics. Autonomic nerve dysfunction in the myocardium may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This article studied autonomic neural remodeling in myocardial sleeves around PVs and atrial-PV ostia with immunohistochemical and morphometric methods with clinicopathological correlations. PVs were collected from 37 and atrial-PV ostia from 17 human autopsy hearts. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed using antibodies against tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), choline acetyltransferase (CHAT), and growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43). In the PV cohort, subjects with immediate cardiovascular cause of death had significantly decreased sympathetic nerve density in fibro-fatty tissue vs those with non-cardiovascular cause of death (1624.53 vs 2522.05 µm2/mm2, p=0.038). In the atrial-PV ostia cohort, parasympathetic nerve density in myocardial sleeves was significantly increased in subjects with underlying cardiovascular cause of death (19.48 µm2/mm2) than subjects with underlying non-cardiovascular cause of death with no parasympathetic nerves detected (p=0.034). Neural growth regionally varied in sympathetic nerves and was present in most of the parasympathetic nerves. Heterogeneous autonomic nerve distribution and growth around PVs and atrial-PV ostia might play a role in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. No association in nerve density was found with atrial fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-642
Number of pages16
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • autonomic nervous system
  • cardiovascular mortality
  • morphometry
  • myocardial sleeves
  • nerve density
  • pulmonary veins

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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