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Utilizing Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells to Study Cardiac Electroporation Pulsed-Field Ablation.

BACKGROUND: Electroporation is a promising nonthermal ablation method for cardiac arrhythmia treatment. Although initial clinical studies found electroporation pulsed-field ablation (PFA) both safe and efficacious, there are significant knowledge gaps concerning the mechanistic nature and electrophysiological consequences of cardiomyocyte electroporation, contributed by the paucity of suitable human in vitro models. Here, we aimed to establish and characterize a functional in vitro model based on human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)-derived cardiac tissue, and to study the fundamentals of cardiac PFA.

METHODS: hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes were seeded as circular cell sheets and subjected to different PFA protocols. Detailed optical mapping, cellular, and molecular characterization was performed to study PFA mechanisms and electrophysiological outcomes.

RESULTS: PFA generated electrically silenced lesions within the hiPSC-derived cardiac circular cell sheets, resulting in areas of conduction block. Both reversible and irreversible electroporation components were identified. Significant electroporation reversibility was documented within 5 to 15-minute post-PFA. Irreversibly electroporated regions persisted at 24-hour post-PFA. Per single pulse, high-frequency PFA was less efficacious than standard (monophasic) PFA, whereas increasing pulse-number augmented lesion size and diminished reversible electroporation. PFA augmentation could also be achieved by increasing extracellular Ca2+ levels. Flow-cytometry experiments revealed that regulated cell death played an important role following PFA. Assessing for PFA antiarrhythmic properties, sustainable lines of electric block could be generated using PFA, which could either terminate or isolate arrhythmic activity in the hiPSC-derived cardiac circular cell sheets.

CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac electroporation may be studied utilizing hiPSC-derived cardiac tissue, whereas providing novel insights into PFA temporal and electrophysiological characteristics, facilitating electroporation protocol optimization, screening for potential PFA-sensitizers, and investigating the mechanistic nature of PFA antiarrhythmic properties.

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