Proarrhythmic response to potassium channel blockade. Numerical studies of polymorphic tachyarrhythmias.
BACKGROUND: Prompted by the results of CAST results, attention has shifted from class I agents that primarily block sodium channels to class III agents that primarily block potassium channels for pharmacological management of certain cardiac arrhythmias. Recent studies demonstrated that sodium channel blockade, while antiarrhythmic at the cellular level, was inherently proarrhythmic in the setting of a propagating wave front as a result of prolongation of the vulnerable period during which premature stimulation can initiate reentrant activation. From a theoretical perspective, sodium (depolarizing) and potassium (repolarizing) currents are complementary so that if antiarrhythmic and proarrhythmic properties are coupled to modulation of sodium currents, then antiarrhythmic and proarrhythmic properties might similarly be coupled to modulation of potassium currents. The purpose of the present study was to explore the role of repolarization currents during reentrant excitation. METHODS AND RESULTS: To assess the generic role of repolarizing currents during reentry, we studied the responses of a two-dimensional array of identical excitable cells based on the FitzHugh-Nagumo model, consisting of a single excitation (sodium-like) current and a single recovery (potassium-like) current. Spiral wave reentry was initiated by use of S1S2 stimulation, with the delay timed to occur within the vulnerable period (VP). While holding the sodium conductance constant, the potassium conductance (gK) was reduced from 1.13 to 0.70 (arbitrary units), producing a prolongation of the action potential duration (APD). When gK was 1.13, the tip of the spiral wave rotated around a small, stationary, unexcited region and the computed ECG was monomorphic. As gK was reduced, the APD was prolonged and the unexcited region became mobile (nonstationary), such that the tip of the spiral wave inscribed an outline similar to a multipetaled flower; concomitantly, the computed ECG became progressively more polymorphic. The degree of polymorphism was related to the APD and the configuration of the nonstationary spiral core. CONCLUSIONS: Torsadelike (polymorphic) ECGs can be derived from spiral wave reentry in a medium of identical cells. Under normal conditions, the spiral core around which a reentrant wave front rotates is stationary. As the balance of repolarizing currents becomes less outward (eg, secondary to potassium channel blockade), the APD is prolonged. When the wavelength (APD.velocity) exceeds the perimeter of the stationary unexcited core, the core will become unstable, causing spiral core drift. Large repolarizing currents shorten the APD and result in a monomorphic reentrant process (stationary core), whereas smaller currents prolong the APD and amplify spiral core instability, resulting in a polymorphic process. We conclude that, similar to sodium channel blockade, the proarrhythmic potential of potassium channel blockade in the setting of propagation may be directly linked to its cellular antiarrhythmic potential, ie, arrhythmia suppression resulting from a prolonged APD may, on initiation of a reentrant wave front, destabilize the core of a rotating spiral, resulting in complex motion (precession) of the spiral tip around a nonstationary region of unexcited cells. In tissue with inhomogeneities, core instability alters the activation sequence from one reentry cycle to the next and can lead to spiral wave fractination as the wave front collides with inhomogeneous regions. Depending on the nature of the inhomogeneities, wave front fragments may annihilate one another, producing a nonsustained arrhythmia, or may spawn new spirals (multiple wavelets), producing fibrillation and sudden cardiac death.
Starmer, CF; Romashko, DN; Reddy, RS; Zilberter, YI; Starobin, J; Grant, AO; Krinsky, VI
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