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Hormones are potent endo-, para-, and autocrine endogenous regulators of the function of multiple organs, including the heart. Endocrine dysfunction promotes a number of cardiovascular diseases, including atrial fibrillation (AF). While the heart is a target for endocrine regulation, it is also an active endocrine organ itself, secreting a number of important bioactive hormones that convey significant endocrine effects, but also through para-/autocrine actions, actively participate in cardiac self-regulation. The hormones regulating heart-function work in concert to support myocardial performance. AF is a serious clinical problem associated with increased morbidity and mortality, mainly due to stroke and heart failure. Current therapies for AF remain inadequate. AF is characterized by altered atrial function and structure, including electrical and profibrotic remodelling in the atria and ventricles, which facilitates AF progression and hampers its treatment. Although features of this remodelling are well-established and its mechanisms are partly understood, important pathways pertinent to AF arrhythmogenesis are still unidentified. The discovery of these missing pathways has the potential to lead to therapeutic breakthroughs. Endocrine dysfunction is well-recognized to lead to AF. In this review, we discuss endocrine and cardiocrine signalling systems that directly, or as a consequence of an underlying cardiac pathology, contribute to AF pathogenesis. More specifically, we consider the roles of products from the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the adrenal glands, adipose tissue, the renin-angiotensin system, atrial cardiomyocytes, and the thyroid gland in controlling atrial electrical and structural properties. The influence of endocrine/paracrine dysfunction on AF risk and mechanisms is evaluated and discussed. We focus on the most recent findings and reflect on the potential of translating them into clinical application.

Original publication




Journal article


Cardiovasc Res

Publication Date





1645 - 1661


Arrhythmia, Atrial fibrillation, Endocrine system, Heart