The occurrence of early afterdepolarizations (EADs) and increased dispersion of repolarization are two known factors for arrhythmogenesis in long QT syndrome. However, increased dispersion of repolarization tends to suppress EADs due to the source-sink effect, and thus how the two competing factors cause initiation of arrhythmias remains incompletely understood. Here we used optical mapping and computer simulation to investigate the mechanisms underlying spontaneous initiation of arrhythmias in type 2 long QT (LQT2) syndrome. In optical mapping experiments of transgenic LQT2 rabbit hearts under isoproterenol, premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) were observed to originate from the steep spatial repolarization gradient (RG) regions and propagated unidirectionally. The same PVC behaviors were demonstrated in computer simulations of tissue models of rabbits. Depending on the heterogeneities, these PVCs could lead to either repetitive focal excitations or reentry without requiring an additional vulnerable substrate. Systematic simulations showed that cellular phase 2 EADs were either suppressed or confined to the long action potential region due to the source-sink effect. Tissue-scale phase 3 EADs and PVCs occurred due to tissue-scale dynamical instabilities caused by RG and enhanced L-type calcium current (ICa,L), occurring under both large and small RG. Presence of cellular EADs was not required but potentiated PVCs when RG was small. We also investigated how other factors affect the dynamical instabilities causing PVCs. Our main conclusion is that tissue-scale dynamical instabilities caused by RG and enhanced ICa,L give rise to both the trigger and the vulnerable substrate simultaneously for spontaneous initiation of arrhythmias in LQT2 syndrome.
- early afterdepolarization
- repolarization gradient
- premature ventricular complex
- initiation of arrhythmias
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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