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Circ Res. 1992 Nov;71(5):1131-42.

Reperfusion arrhythmias in isolated perfused pig hearts. Inhomogeneities in extracellular potassium, ST and TQ potentials, and transmembrane action potentials.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Cardiology, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


We recorded direct current electrograms and local [K+]o at multiple sites and transmembrane potentials at selected sites during reperfusion after 5 minutes and 10 minutes of regional ischemia in isolated perfused pig hearts. After 10 minutes of ischemia, the incidence of ventricular fibrillation (VF) was 38%. At 80-90 seconds after reperfusion, [K+]o was 0.8 mM less than in normal tissue in half of the reperfused tissue, especially in the border zone. This was associated with TQ elevation of +4.5 mV and large peaked T waves. The latter was caused by an abrupt decrease of action potential duration in reperfused tissue, leading to a difference of up to 165 msec with normal tissue. Reperfusion VF started with a closely coupled ventricular premature beat. Activation block between reperfused and normal tissue permitted reentrant activation, leading to VF. Pretreatment with ryanodine (10(-6) M) and reperfusion with elevated [K+] (both of which prevent delayed afterdepolarizations) did not prevent closely coupled ventricular premature beats or VF. Five minutes of ischemia never caused VF. K+ depletion and TQ elevation in the reperfused zone was less frequent and smaller (-0.4 mM and 1.8 mV, respectively). Peaked T waves did not occur, and shortening of the action potential duration was less. We conclude that extracellular K+ depletion and marked action potential duration shortening in the reperfused tissue play a role in the genesis of reperfusion VF, which is caused by reentry. The closely coupled ventricular premature beat that initiates reentry is not caused by delayed afterdepolarizations but most likely by intramural reentry.

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