The electrical impulses that dictate the rhythm of the heartbeat in normal situations and during exercise or stress are initiated by a small number of sinus node pacemaker cells. Senescence and dysfunction of the sinus node affects many people later in life, causing physiologically inappropriate heart rates, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In this issue of the JCI, Froese and colleagues show that deficiency in either Popeye domain containing 1 (Popdc1) or Popdc2 leads to sinus node dysfunction under stressed conditions in aged mice. The mechanism reported to underlie the effects of Popdc1/2 deficiency in mice may cause the stress-induced sinus node dysfunction found in many aged individuals and may point to new strategies for therapeutic intervention.
Bastiaan J. Boukens, Vincent M. Christoffels