Cardiac optogenetics: using light to monitor cardiac physiology

Basic Res Cardiol. 2017 Aug 31;112(5):56. doi: 10.1007/s00395-017-0645-y.


Our current understanding of cardiac excitation and its coupling to contraction is largely based on ex vivo studies utilising fluorescent organic dyes to assess cardiac action potentials and signal transduction. Recent advances in optogenetic sensors open exciting new possibilities for cardiac research and allow us to answer research questions that cannot be addressed using the classic organic dyes. Especially thrilling is the possibility to use optogenetic sensors to record parameters of cardiac excitation and contraction in vivo. In addition, optogenetics provide a high spatial resolution, as sensors can be coupled to motifs and targeted to specific cell types and subcellular domains of the heart. In this review, we will give a comprehensive overview of relevant optogenetic sensors, how they can be utilised in cardiac research and how they have been applied in cardiac research up to now.

Keywords: Calcium cycling/excitation–contraction coupling; Cell signalling/signal transduction; Ion channels/membrane transport; Physiology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Cardiology / methods*
  • Excitation Contraction Coupling
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Ion Transport
  • Myocardial Contraction*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Optogenetics*


  • Ion Channels