The Multi-Domain Fibroblast/Myocyte Coupling in the Cardiac Tissue: A Theoretical Study

Ariel Greisas, Sharon Zlochiver
Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology 2016, 7 (3): 290-304
Cardiac fibroblast proliferation and concomitant collagenous matrix accumulation (fibrosis) develop during multiple cardiac pathologies. Recent studies have demonstrated direct electrical coupling between myocytes and fibroblasts in vitro, and assessed the electrophysiological implications of such coupling. However, in the living tissues, such coupling has not been demonstrated, and only indirect coupling via the extracellular space is likely to exist. In this study we employed a multi-domain model to assess the modulation of the cardiac electrophysiological properties by neighboring fibroblasts assuming only indirect coupling. Numerical simulations in 1D and 2D human atrial models showed that extracellular coupling sustains a significant impact on conduction velocity (CV) and a less significant effect on the action potential duration. Both CV and the slope of the CV restitution increased with increasing fibroblast density. This effect was more substantial for lower extracellular conductance. In 2D, spiral waves exhibited reduced frequency with increasing fibroblast density, and the propensity of wavebreaks and complex dynamics at high pacing rates significantly increased.

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