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Cardiovasc Res. 2015 May 1;106(2):338-43. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvv004. Epub 2015 Jan 12.

Systemic gene transfer enables optogenetic pacing of mouse hearts.

Author information

1
Institute of Physiology I, Life and Brain Center, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, Bonn 53127, Germany.
2
Institute of Physiology I, Life and Brain Center, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, Bonn 53127, Germany Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
3
Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
4
Institute of Physiology I, Life and Brain Center, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, Bonn 53127, Germany philipp.sasse@uni-bonn.de.

Abstract

AIMS:

Optogenetic pacing of the heart has been demonstrated in transgenic animals expressing channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2). However, for the clinical use of optogenetics to treat cardiac arrhythmias, gene transfer to non-transgenic hearts is required. The aim of this study was to describe a reliable method for gene transfer of ChR2 into a sufficient percentage of cardiomyocytes to overcome the electrical sink of all the coupled non-expressing cardiomyocytes during optical pacing of the whole heart in vivo.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) with cardiac tropism for expression of ChR2 in fusion with mCherry was systemically injected into wild-type mouse hearts. Bright mCherry fluorescence was detected in the whole heart 4-10 weeks later. Single-cell dissociation revealed that on average 58% cardiomyocytes were mCherry-positive. These showed light-induced inward currents, action potentials, and contractions. Pulsed illumination of the left ventricle induced ventricular pacing in vivo in 74% of mice, and higher light intensities were required for reduced pulse duration or size of illumination. Non-responding hearts showed low AAV expression, and the threshold for optical pacing was estimated to be 35-40% ChR2-expressing cardiomyocytes. Optical pacing in vivo was stable over extended periods without negative effects on normal sinus rhythm and ECG parameters after termination of stimulation indicating sufficient cardiac output during pacing.

CONCLUSIONS:

Gene transfer generates sufficient ChR2 photocurrent for reliable optogenetic pacing in vivo and lays out the basis for future optogenetic pacemaker and pain-free defibrillation therapies.

KEYWORDS:

Adeno-associated virus; Channelrhodopsin; Optogenetic; Pacemaker

Comment in

PMID:
25587047
DOI:
10.1093/cvr/cvv004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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