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Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2013 Aug;23(6):222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

The perinexus: sign-post on the path to a new model of cardiac conduction?

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Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Ave, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


The perinexus is a recently identified microdomain surrounding the cardiac gap junction that contains elevated levels of connexin43 and the sodium channel protein, Nav1.5. Ongoing work has established a role for the perinexus in regulating gap junction aggregation. However, recent studies have raised the possibility of a perinexal contribution at the gap junction cleft to intercellular propagation of action potential via non-electrotonic mechanisms. The latter possibility could modify the current theoretical understanding of cardiac conduction, help explain paradoxical experimental findings, and open up entirely new avenues for antiarrhythmic therapy. We review recent structural insights into the perinexus and its potential novel functional role in cardiac-excitation spread, highlighting presently unanswered questions, the evidence for ephaptic conduction in the heart and how structural insights may help complete this picture.

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