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J Theor Biol. 2011 Sep 21;285(1):164-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.06.039. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

Effects of boundaries and geometry on the spatial distribution of action potential duration in cardiac tissue.

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School of Mathematical Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, 85 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623, USA.


Increased dispersion of action potential duration across cardiac tissue has long been considered an important substrate for the development of most electrical arrhythmias. Although this dispersion has been studied previously by characterizing the static intrinsic gradients in cellular electrophysiology and dynamical gradients generated by fast pacing, few studies have concentrated on dispersions generated solely by structural effects. Here we show how boundaries and geometry can produce spatially dependent changes in action potential duration (APD) in homogeneous and isotropic tissue, where all the cells have the same APD in the absence of diffusion. Electrotonic currents due to coupling within the tissue and at the tissue boundaries can generate dispersion, and the profile of this dispersion can change dramatically depending on tissue size and shape, action potential morphology, tissue dimensionality, and stimulus frequency and location. The dispersion generated by pure geometrical effects can be on the order of tens of milliseconds, enough under certain conditions to produce conduction blocks and initiate reentrant waves.

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