Thul, Rüdiger; Coombes, Stephen and Bootman, Martin D.
Persistence of pro-arrhythmic spatio-temporal calcium patterns in atrial myocytes: a computational study of ping waves.
Frontiers in physiology, 3 p. 279.
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Clusters of ryanodine receptors within atrial myocytes are confined to spatially separated layers. In many species, these layers are not juxtaposed by invaginations of the plasma membrane (transverse tubules; 'T-tubules'), so that calcium-induced-calcium signals rely on centripetal propagation rather than voltage-synchronized channel openings to invade the interior of the cell and trigger contraction. The combination of this specific cellular geometry and dynamics of calcium release can lead to novel autonomous spatio-temporal calcium waves, and in particular ping waves. These are waves of calcium release activity that spread as counter-rotating sectors of elevated calcium within a single layer of ryanodine receptors, and can seed further longitudinal calcium waves. Here we show, using a computational model, that these calcium waves can dominate the response of a cell to electrical pacing and hence are pro-arrhythmic. This highlights the importance of modeling internal cellular structures when investigating mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction such as atrial arrhythmia.
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