Electroelastic unpinning of rotating vortices in biological excitable media

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2012 Mar;85(3 Pt 1):031915. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.85.031915. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Spiral waves in excitable biological media are associated with pathological situations. In the heart an action potential vortex pinned by an obstacle has to be removed through defibrillation protocols fine-tuned theoretically by using electrophysiological nonlinear mathematical models. Cardiac tissue, however, is an electroelastic medium whose electrical properties are strongly affected by large deformations. In this paper we specifically investigate the electroelastic pinning-unpinning mechanism in order to include cardiac contraction in the preexisting theoretically modeled defibrillation scenarios. Based on a two-dimensional minimal electromechanical model, we show numerically the existence of an unpinning band characterized by the size of the obstacle, the pacing site, and the frequency. Similar numerical simulations, performed in the absence of elastic coupling, show small differences in comparison with the electroelastic studies, suggesting for this specific scenario of pinning-unpinning dynamics a nonprominent role of elasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*