Current flow patterns in two-dimensional anisotropic bisyncytia with normal and extreme conductivities.
Cardiac tissue has been shown to function as an electrical syncytium in both intracellular and extracellular (interstitial) domains. Available experimental evidence and qualitative intuition about the complex anatomical structure support the viewpoint that different (average) conductivities are characteristic of the direction along the fiber axis, as compared with the cross-fiber direction, in intracellular as well as extracellular space. This report analyzes two-dimensional anisotropic cardiac tissue and achieves integral equations for finding intracellular and extracellular potentials, longitudinal currents, and membrane currents directly from a given description of the transmembrane voltage. These mathematical results are used as a basis for a numerical model of realistic (though idealized) two-dimensional cardiac tissue. A computer simulation based on the numerical model was executed for conductivity patterns including nominally normal ventricular muscle conductivities and a pattern having the intra- or extracellular conductivity ratio along x, the reciprocal of that along y. The computed results are based on assuming a simple spatial distribution for Vm, usually a circular isochrone, to isolate the effects on currents and potentials of variations in conductivities without confounding propagation differences. The results are in contrast to the many reports that explicity or implicitly assume isotropic conductivity or equal conductivity ratios along x and y. Specifically, with reciprocal conductivities, most current flows in large loops encompassing several millimeters, but only in the resting (polarized) region of the tissue; further, a given current flow path often includes four or more rather than two transmembrane excursions. The nominally normal results showed local currents predominantly with only two transmembrane passages; however, a substantial part of the current flow patterns in two-dimensional anisotropic bisyncytia may have qualitative as well as quantitative properties entirely different from those of one-dimensional strands.
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