Aims: The duration and morphology of the T wave predict risk for ventricular fibrillation. A transmural gradient in action potential duration (APD) in the ventricular wall has been suggested to underlie the T wave in humans. We hypothesize that the transmural gradient in APD compensates for the normal endocardium-to-epicardium activation sequence and synchronizes repolarization in the human ventricular wall.
Methods and results: We made left ventricular wedge preparations from 10 human donor hearts and measured transmural activation and repolarization patterns by optical mapping, while simultaneously recording a pseudo-ECG. We also studied the relation between local timings of repolarization with the T wave in silico. During endocardial pacing (1 Hz), APD was longer at the subendocardium than at the subepicardium (360 ± 17 vs. 317 ± 20 ms, P < 0.05). The transmural activation time was 32 ± 4 ms and resulted in final repolarization of the subepicardium at 349 ± 18 ms. The overall transmural dispersion in repolarization time was smaller than that of APD. During epicardial pacing, the dispersion in repolarization time increased, whereas that of APD remained similar. The morphology of the T wave did not differ between endocardial and epicardial stimulation. Simulations explained the constant T wave morphology without transmural APD gradients.
Conclusion: The intrinsic transmural difference in APD compensates for the normal cardiac activation sequence, resulting in more homogeneous repolarization of the left ventricular wall. Our data suggest that the transmural repolarization differences do not fully explain the genesis of the T wave.
Keywords: Human; Optical mapping; Repolarization; T wave.
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