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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2011 Mar;50(3):510-21. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2010.11.019. Epub 2010 Dec 9.

Alternans of action potential duration and amplitude in rabbits with left ventricular dysfunction following myocardial infarction.

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British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.


T-wave alternans may predict the occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with left ventricular dysfunction and experimental work has linked discordant repolarization alternans to the induction of re-entry. The aim of this study was to examine the occurrence of transmural repolarization alternans and to investigate the link between alternans and ventricular arrhythmia in rabbits with left ventricular dysfunction following myocardial infarction. Optical mapping was used to record action potentials from the transmural surface of left ventricular wedge preparations from normal and post-infarction hearts during a progressive reduction in pacing cycle length at 30 and 37°C. Data were analyzed using custom software, including spectral analysis. There were no significant differences in baseline transmural electrophysiology between the groups. Post-infarction hearts had a lower threshold for both repolarization alternans (286 vs. 333 bpm, p<0.05) and ventricular arrhythmias (79 vs. 19%, p<0.01) during rapid pacing, which was not accounted for by increased transmural discordant alternans. In VF-prone hearts, alternans in optical action potential amplitude was observed and increased until 2:1 block occurred. The degree of optical action potential amplitude alternans (12.0 ± 7.0 vs. 1.8 ± 0.3, p<0.05), but not APD(90) alternans (1.4 ± 0.6 vs. 1.1 ± 0.1, p>0.05) was associated with VF inducibility during rapid pacing. Post-infarction hearts are more vulnerable to transmural alternans and ventricular arrhythmias at rapid rates. Alternans in optical action potential amplitude was associated with conduction block and VF. The data suggest that changes in optical action potential amplitude may underlie a mechanism for alternans-associated ventricular arrhythmia in left ventricular dysfunction.

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