Anisotropy, fiber curvature, and bath loading effects on activation in thin and thick cardiac tissue preparations: simulations in a three-dimensional bidomain model

C S Henriquez, A L Muzikant, C K Smoak
Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology 1996, 7 (5): 424-44

INTRODUCTION: A modeling study is presented to explore the effects of tissue conductivity, fiber orientation, and presence of an adjoining extracellular volume conductor on electrical conduction in cardiac muscle. Simulated results are compared with those of classical in vitro experiments on superfused thin layer preparations and on whole hearts.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The tissue is modeled as a three-dimensional bidomain block adjoining an isotropic bath. In the thin layer model, the fibers are assumed parallel. In the thick block model, fiber rotation, curvature, and tipping are incorporated. Results from the thin layer model explain experimental observations that the rate of rise of the entire action potential upstroke is faster and the magnitude of the extracellular potential is smaller across fibers than along fibers in a uniformly propagating front. The simulation identified that this behavior only arises in tissue with unequal anisotropy in the two spaces and adjoining an extracellular bath. Simulated conduction and potential distributions in the thick block model are shown to well approximate experimental maps. The potentials are sensitive to changes in the fiber orientations. A slight 5 degrees tipping of intramural fibers out of the planes parallel to the epicardium and endocardium will lead to an asymmetry of the magnitudes of the positive regions. In addition, the introduction of fiber curvature leads to more realistic isochrone and extracellular potential distributions. The orientation of the central negative region of the extracellular potential is shown to be determined by the average of the fiber direction at the plane of pacing and the plane of recording.

CONCLUSIONS: The simulations demonstrate the sensitivity of spread of activation and potential time courses and distributions to the underlying electrical properties in both thick and thin slabs. The bidomain model is shown to be a useful representation of cardiac tissue for interpreting experimental data of activation.

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