Determinants of Beat-to-Beat Variability of Repolarization Duration in the Canine Ventricular Myocyte: A Computational Analysis

Heijman, Jordi; Zaza, Antonio; Johnson, Daniel M.; Rudy, Yoram; Peeters, Ralf L. M.; Volders, Paul G. A. and Westra, Ronald L. (2013). Determinants of Beat-to-Beat Variability of Repolarization Duration in the Canine Ventricular Myocyte: A Computational Analysis. PLoS Computational Biology, 9(8) e1003202.



Beat-to-beat variability of repolarization duration (BVR) is an intrinsic characteristic of cardiac function and a better marker of proarrhythmia than repolarization prolongation alone. The ionic mechanisms underlying baseline BVR in physiological conditions, its rate dependence, and the factors contributing to increased BVR in pathologies remain incompletely understood. Here, we employed computer modeling to provide novel insights into the subcellular mechanisms of BVR under physiological conditions and during simulated drug-induced repolarization prolongation, mimicking long-QT syndromes type 1, 2, and 3. We developed stochastic implementations of 13 major ionic currents and fluxes in a model of canine ventricular-myocyte electrophysiology. Combined stochastic gating of these components resulted in short- and long-term variability, consistent with experimental data from isolated canine ventricular myocytes. The model indicated that the magnitude of stochastic fluctuations is rate dependent due to the rate dependence of action-potential (AP) duration (APD). This process (the “active” component) and the intrinsic nonlinear relationship between membrane current and APD (“intrinsic component”) contribute to the rate dependence of BVR. We identified a major role in physiological BVR for stochastic gating of the persistent Na+ current (INa) and rapidly activating delayed-rectifier K+ current (IKr). Inhibition of IKr or augmentation of INa significantly increased BVR, whereas subsequent β-adrenergic receptor stimulation reduced it, similar to experimental findings in isolated myocytes. In contrast, β-adrenergic stimulation increased BVR in simulated long-QT syndrome type 1. In addition to stochastic channel gating, AP morphology, APD, and beat-to-beat variations in Ca2+ were found to modulate single-cell BVR. Cell-to-cell coupling decreased BVR and this was more pronounced when a model cell with increased BVR was coupled to a model cell with normal BVR. In conclusion, our results provide new insights into the ionic mechanisms underlying BVR and suggest that BVR reflects multiple potentially proarrhythmic parameters, including increased ion-channel stochasticity, prolonged APD, and abnormal Ca2+ handling.

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