Intracellular Ca(2+) dynamics and the stability of ventricular tachycardia

E Chudin, J Goldhaber, A Garfinkel, J Weiss, B Kogan
Biophysical Journal 1999, 77 (6): 2930-41
Ventricular fibrillation (VF), the major cause of sudden cardiac death, is typically preceded by ventricular tachycardia (VT), but the mechanisms underlying the transition from VT to VF are poorly understood. Intracellular Ca(2+) overload occurs during rapid heart rates typical of VT and is also known to promote arrhythmias. We therefore studied the role of intracellular Ca(2+) dynamics in the transition from VT to VF, using a combined experimental and mathematical modeling approach. Our results show that 1) rapid pacing of rabbit ventricular myocytes at 35 degrees C led to increased intracellular Ca(2+) levels and complex patterns of action potential (AP) configuration and the intracellular Ca(2+) transients; 2) the complex patterns of the Ca(2+) transient arose directly from the dynamics of intracellular Ca(2+) cycling, and were not merely passive responses to beat-to-beat alterations in AP; 3) the complex Ca(2+) dynamics were simulated in a modified version of the Luo-Rudy (LR) ventricular action potential with improved intracellular Ca(2+) dynamics, and showed good agreement with the experimental findings in isolated myocytes; and 4) when incorporated into simulated two-dimensional cardiac tissue, this action potential model produced a form of spiral wave breakup from VT to a VF-like state in which intracellular Ca(2+) dynamics played a key role through its influence on Ca(2+)-sensitive membrane currents such as I(Ca), I(NaCa), and I(ns(Ca)). To the extent that spiral wave breakup is useful as a model for the transition from VT to VF, these findings suggest that intracellular Ca(2+) dynamics may play an important role in the destabilization of VT and its degeneration into VF.

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