Increased interstitial loading reduces the effect of microstructural variations in cardiac tissue.
Electrical propagation in diseased and aging hearts is strongly influenced by structural changes that occur in both the intracellular and interstitial spaces of cardiac tissue; however, very few studies have investigated how interactions between the two spaces affect propagation at the microscale. In this study, we used one-dimensional microstructural computer models of interconnected ventricular myocytes to systematically investigate how increasing the effective interstitial resistivity (rho(oeff)) influences action potential propagation in fibers with variations in intracellular properties such as cell coupling and cell length. Changes in rho(oeff) were incorporated into a monodomain model using a correction to the intracellular properties that was based on bidomain simulations. The results showed that increasing rho(oeff) in poorly coupled one-dimensional fibers alters the distribution of electrical load at the microscale and causes propagation to become more continuous. In the poorly coupled fiber, this continuous state is characterized by decreased gap junction delay, sustained conduction velocity, increased sodium current, reduced maximum upstroke velocity, and increased safety factor. Long, poorly coupled cells experience greater loading effects than short cells and show the greatest initial response to changes in rho(oeff). In inhomogeneous fibers with adjacent well-coupled and poorly coupled regions, increasing rho(oeff) in the poorly coupled region also reduces source-load mismatch, which delays the onset of conduction block and reduces the dispersion of repolarization at the transition between the two regions. Increasing the rho(oeff) minimizes the effect of cell-to-cell variations and may influence the pattern of activation in critical regimes characterized by low intercellular coupling, microstructural heterogeneity, and reduced or abnormal membrane excitability.
Hubbard, ML; Henriquez, CS
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