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Front Physiol. 2019 Jun 26;10:721. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00721. eCollection 2019.

Comprehensive Uncertainty Quantification and Sensitivity Analysis for Cardiac Action Potential Models.

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Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD, United States.
Masonic Medical Research Institute, Utica, NY, United States.


Recent efforts to ensure the reliability of computational model-based predictions in healthcare, such as the ASME V&V40 Standard, emphasize the importance of uncertainty quantification (UQ) and sensitivity analysis (SA) when evaluating computational models. UQ involves empirically determining the uncertainty in model inputs-typically resulting from natural variability or measurement error-and then calculating the resultant uncertainty in model outputs. SA involves calculating how uncertainty in model outputs can be apportioned to input uncertainty. Rigorous comprehensive UQ/SA provides confidence that model-based decisions are robust to underlying uncertainties. However, comprehensive UQ/SA is not currently feasible for whole heart models, due to numerous factors including model complexity and difficulty in measuring variability in the many parameters. Here, we present a significant step to developing a framework to overcome these limitations. We: (i) developed a novel action potential (AP) model of moderate complexity (six currents, seven variables, 36 parameters); (ii) prescribed input variability for all parameters (not empirically derived); (iii) used a single "hyper-parameter" to study increasing levels of parameter uncertainty; (iv) performed UQ and SA for a range of model-derived quantities with physiological relevance; and (v) present quantitative and qualitative ways to analyze different behaviors that occur under parameter uncertainty, including "model failure". This is the first time uncertainty in every parameter (including conductances, steady-state parameters, and time constant parameters) of every ionic current in a cardiac model has been studied. This approach allowed us to demonstrate that, for this model, the simulated AP is fully robust to low levels of parameter uncertainty - to our knowledge the first time this has been shown of any cardiac model. A range of dynamics was observed at larger parameter uncertainty (e.g., oscillatory dynamics); analysis revealed that five parameters were highly influential in these dynamics. Overall, we demonstrate feasibility of performing comprehensive UQ/SA for cardiac cell models and demonstrate how to assess robustness and overcome model failure when performing cardiac UQ analyses. The approach presented here represents an important and significant step toward the development of model-based clinical tools which are demonstrably robust to all underlying uncertainties and therefore more reliable in safety-critical decision-making.


canine; credibility; electrophysiology; robustness; simulation

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