Background: Sheets of cultured cardiac cells constitute an emerging experimental model of cardiac tissue electrophysiology and arrhythmia. It has been used to study fundamental properties of reentrant (spiral) waves and electric field interactions with tissue structure and thus constitutes a valuable model for investigations of fibrillation and defibrillation.
Methods: Optical mapping can be used to visualize action potential propagation or calcium waves in confluent monolayers of neonatal rat ventricular cells. Spiral waves can be initiated by burst pacing and terminated by an electric field shock.
Results: Work from this laboratory and others is reviewed regarding the behavior of single and multiple spiral waves in this model system as they pertain to fibrillation (dynamic instabilities) and defibrillation (interaction of electric fields with reentrant waves).
Conclusions: Subject to limitations, the cultured cell monolayer is a controlled experimental model that will be useful for further study of basic aspects of fibrillation and defibrillations.