Cardiac Optogenetics: 2018

JACC Clin Electrophysiol. 2018 Feb;4(2):155-167. doi: 10.1016/j.jacep.2017.12.006. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Cardiac optogenetics is an emergent research area involving the delivery of light-sensitive proteins (opsins) to excitable heart tissue to enable optical modulation of cardiac electrical function. Optogenetic stimulation has many noteworthy advantages over conventional electrical methods, including selective electrophysiological modulation in specifically targeted cell subpopulations, high-resolution spatiotemporal control via patterned illumination, and use of different opsins to elicit inward or outward transmembrane current. This review summarizes developments achieved since the inception of cardiac optogenetics research, which has spanned nearly a decade. The authors first provide an overview of recent methodological advances in opsin engineering, light sensitization of cardiac tissue, strategies for illuminating the heart, and frameworks for simulating optogenetics in realistic computational models of patient hearts. They then review recent cardiac optogenetics applications, including: 1) all-optical, high-throughput, contactless assays for quantification of electrophysiological properties; 2) optogenetic perturbation of cardiac tissue to unveil mechanistic insights on the initiation, perpetuation, and termination of arrhythmia; and 3) disruptive translational innovations such as light-based pacemaking and defibrillation.

Keywords: arrhythmia; cardiac optogenetics; cardiotoxicity screening; defibrillation; multiscale computational modeling; pacemaking; re-entry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Electrophysiology*
  • Humans
  • Optogenetics*