Send to

Choose Destination
Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Nov;84(2):207-31.

Functional, structural, and dynamic basis of electrical heterogeneity in healthy and diseased cardiac muscle: implications for arrhythmogenesis and anti-arrhythmic drug therapy.

Author information

Department of Medical Cardiology, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.


The electrophysiological properties of the ventricular myocardium are extremely heterogeneous. There are intrinsic electrical differences between the myocytes from different regions of the heart (most notably between the epicardium, midmyocardium, and endocardium), which are the result of different contributions of ionic currents to the transmembrane action potential. Sources of local anisotropy include directional differences in the distribution of gap junctions between adjacent myocytes and the presence of intercalated non-myocytes (e.g., fibroblasts), propagation boundaries, and wavefront collisions, which can lead to local variability of electrical load and, therefore, to nonuniform depolarisation and repolarisation. In addition, the complex anatomical arrangement of the myocardial fibres and nonuniform distribution of transmural mechanical stresses also contribute to electrical heterogeneity. Finally, dispersion of repolarisation is dynamically modified by the restitution properties of individual myocytes, stimulation rate, and the direction of conduction. All aspects of this electrical heterogeneity can be affected by different pathological conditions, such as myocardial ischaemia and cardiac hypertrophy. In particular, differential responses of various myocyte populations to these pathological stimuli and a marked increase in nonuniform anisotropy may be responsible for increased pro-arrhythmic potential in these conditions. In addition, the clinical effectiveness of anti-arrhythmic drugs may be related to their effects on electrical heterogeneity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center