Arrhythmia mechanisms in acute ischaemia and chronic infarction in rabbit heart.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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In this thesis, a method for studying the electrophysiological consequences of acute regional ischaemia in rabbit heart was established using a combination of a novel snare technique and optical mapping. The purpose of this approach was to discover the mechanistic link between acute coronary infarction and the occurrence of arrhythmias. The electrophysiology of the epicardial surface of isolated hearts was examined using the voltage sensitive dye RH237 and optical action potentials were recorded from a 13x13mm area of left ventricular epicardium using a 16x16 element Hamamatsu photodiode array. Contraction motion artefacts were practically eliminated with blebbistatin (5µM). An alternative mechanical uncoupler, BDM, was found to be not suitable for the study of arrhythmic behaviour associated with ischaemia.
After occlusion of the left coronary artery, a progressive reduction in action potential duration (APD), and slowing of upstroke was observed in an area of the left ventricle anterior surface, accompanied by ECG S-T segment elevation. These effects were reversed when the coronary artery occlusion was released. Ligation (duration 12-15mins) caused a decrease in APD50 (APD at 50% repolarisation), in the zone of reduced perfusion, from 141±5.2ms to 53.3±9.3ms (mean±SEM, n=10 hearts, P<0.001). After ligation was reversed and full perfusion restored, APD50 returned to normal values (149±7.0ms, n.s.). Trise (action potential rise time from 10-90% depolarisation) increased from 7.2±1.0ms to 15.8±2.8ms (P<0.01). In the non-infarcted area of myocardium, no significant changes in APD50 (147±7.0ms vs. 147±8.1ms) or Trise (6.4±0.4ms vs 8.8±1.4ms) were observed during occlusion. T-wave alternans behaviour was observed frequently during local ischaemia and associated with alternans of optical action potentials (OAPs) in the ischaemic border zone (BZ) and in ischaemic zone (IZ). T-wave alternans amplitude was not maintained during local ischaemia but OAPs continued to show alternating behaviour. Arrhythmias (VT and VF) were common when conduction block occurred at the interface between the normal and ischaemic zone, but arrhythmias were absent when conduction into the IZ was retained. This observation suggests that the conduction block was the crucial precipitating event for the generation of arrhythmias.
Acute local ischaemia was also imposed in a heart with an existing infarct scar to examine the effects of pre-existing ischaemic damage. The incidence of arrhythmias was similar to that observed in the absence of an infarct scar indicating that pre-existing damage did not predispose the heart to arrhythmias. Global ischaemic challenges, both low flow and zero flow produced similar reductions in APD and rise time and were followed by arrhythmias, but the associated changes in the ECG were complex and could not be easily interpreted. Significant temporal variability in electrophysiology was observed in global ischaemia, but absent in the local ischaemic challenge. The underlying mechanisms of these temporal flucuations in cardiac electrophysiology may be dictated by either cellular metabolism or fluctuations in coronary flow.
Long-term local ischaemia (~60mins) did not reveal a second phase of arrhythmias after 40-45mins as observed in other animal models, and nor were there signs of significant further electrophysiological changes as a consequence of the additional period of local ischaemia.
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