Local Gradients in Electrotonic Loading Modulate the Local Effective Refractory Period: Implications for Arrhythmogenesis in the Infarct Border Zone

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2015 Sep;62(9):2251-2259. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2015.2421296. Epub 2015 Apr 9.


Ectopic electrical activity that originates in the peri-infarct region can give rise to potentially lethal re-entrant arrhythmias. The spatial variation in electrotonic loading that results from structural remodelling in the infarct border zone may increase the probability that focal activity will trigger electrical capture, but this has not previously been investigated systematically. This study uses in-silico experiments to examine the structural modulation of effective refractory period on ectopic beat capture. Informed by 3-D reconstructions of myocyte organization in the infarct border zone, a region of rapid tissue expansion is abstracted to an idealized representation. A novel metric is introduced that defines the local electrotonic loading as a function of passive tissue properties and boundary conditions. The effective refractory period correlates closely with local electrotonic loading, while the action potential duration, conduction, and upstroke velocity reduce in regions of increasing electrotonic load. In the presence of focal ectopic stimuli, spatial variation in effective refractory period can cause unidirectional conduction block providing a substrate for reentrant arrhythmias. Consequently, based on the observed results, a possible novel mechanism for arrhythmogenesis in the infarct border zone is proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology
  • Rats