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Highlight of the Meeting

36th Annual Meeting of the EWGCCE

The 36th meeting of the ESC Working Group on Cardiac Cellular Electrophysiology took place this year in Nantes. People gathered across the European continent to France to expose their work and discuss their results in an informal and pleasant environment.
Importantly, a large place has been given to young investigators and early career scientists to present, sometimes for the first time, their results on ongoing experiments.

Before the first session, the assembly paid tribute to Stephen O'Neill, senior lecturer in Physiology at the University of Manchester, who died the 9th of August after fighting with fortitude for 6 years against a brain tumour. He greatly contributed to the understanding of the intracellular Ca2+ regulation by the SR in the heart. Stephen had been a caring, dedicated, and constant professional support for all his collaborators, colleagues and students. Our thoughts are with Mary Diaz, his partner, and Stephenito, their 4 year old son.
The first session opened by Rodolphe Fischmeister, was devoted to signalling pathways in cardiac cells more specifically to cyclic nucleotides and phosphodiesterases controlling cardiac function. Young investigators brilliantly underlined how calcium homeostasis misregulation upon b-AR stimulation leads to arrhythmias, how the expression of specific isoforms of phosphodiesterases is affected in heart failure. Specific pools of cAMP and cGMP under control of these enzymes were described as critical to regulate intracellular calcium levels and the potassium channel Kv7.1.

The main focus of the second session was ionic conductances perturbations occurring in atrial fibrillation. Stefan Kääb introduced the session by underlying the contribution of genetic research to elucidate heritable components of AF, to improve risk prediction and patient treatment. Among the candidates genes affected in AF, KCNN3 encodes for the calcium activated potassium channel SK3, which has been described as a potential therapeutic target in AF, as well as GJA5 encoding for connexion 40 whose mutations would also contribute to this arrhythmia. Interestingly, differentiation of fibroblasts from human atria into myofibroblasts and expressing voltage-activated ionic conductances was proposed to concur to electrical disturbances.

The afternoon was dedicated to an intensive poster session and young investigators exposed their work on signalling, ion channels, arrhythmias, models and techniques in a friendly atmosphere. The high scientific level of each presentation has been hailed by the participants and by a jury who had the difficult task of choosing the best poster presentations rewarded during the closing session.

Ursula RavensThis first day ended by the first Carmeliet-Coraboeuf-Weidman lecture given by Ursula Ravens, who presented an historical overview of cardiac electrophysiology, paying tribute to many illustrious researchers in the field of cardiac cellular electrophysiogy, among them, Edward Carmeliet who honoured the participants by its presence and participation at the meeting.

Two sessions were held the second day. The first one was devoted to calcium signaling and opened by Llewelyn Roderick’s talk. He nicely presented the role of IP3R during cardiac hypertrophy and the feed-back mediated by micro RNA. The oral communications that followed this introductory lecture were focused on cardiac remodeling during heart failure: the role of microRNA in the associated electrophysiological alterations, and on calcium waves frequency.
Other speakers elegantly presented data on voltage and calcium measurements by 2 photons microscopy and the differential effect of local CaMKII activation on coupled or uncoupled RyR.
The second session was introduced by the interesting Jose Lopez-Barneo’s talk on the metabotropic effect of the L-type Ca2+ channel on vascular smooth muscle cells. Besides their classical ionotropic role, L-type Ca2+ channels in vascular smooth muscle mediate ion flux-independent depolarization-induced Ca2+ release. This action of Ca2+ channels involves metabotropic G protein-dependent activation of the RhoA/ROCK pathway. Ca2+ channel induced Ca2+ release and subsequent ROCK activation are required for sustained arterial contractions. The session was continued by presentations showing data on L-type Ca2+ channels subunit remodeling in atherosclerosis, the effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on Kv7.1 and the effects and pathway of leptin on Kv4.2 and 4.3. The session was ended by a presentation about human iPS-derived cardiomyocytes and their use in pharmacology investigations.

In the closing session, the travel and poster awardees were presented, and in the business meeting we acknowledged the dedication of the past president of the nucleus, Elisabetta Cerbai, and the new president, Paul Volders, announced the next meeting in Athens, on 23-26 June 2013 in collaboration with the European Heart Rhythm Association.