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BACKGROUND: The correlation between spontaneous calcium oscillations (S-CaOs) and arrhythmogenesis has been investigated in a number of theoretical and experimental in vitro models. There is an obvious lack of studies that directly investigate how the kinetics of S-CaOs correlates with a specific arrhythmia in the in vivo heart. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the study is to investigate the correlation between the kinetics of S-CaOs and arrhythmogenesis in the intact heart using an experimental model of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). METHODS: Perfused Langendorff guinea pig (GP) hearts were subjected to global I/R (10-15 minutes/10-15 minutes). The heart was stained with a voltage-sensitive dye (RH237) and loaded with a Ca2+ indicator (Rhod-2 AM). Membrane voltage (Vm) and intracellular calcium transient (Ca(i)T) were simultaneously recorded with an optical mapping system of two 16 x 16 photodiode arrays. S-CaOs were considered to arise from a localized focal site within the mapped surface when these preceded the associated membrane depolarizations by 2-15 ms. RESULTS: In 135 episodes of ventricular arrhythmias from 28 different GP experiments, 23 were linked to S-CaOs that were considered to arise from or close to the mapped epicardial window. Self-limited or sustained S-CaOs had a cycle length of 130-430 ms and could trigger propagated ventricular depolarizations. Self-limited S-CaOs that followed the basic beat action potential (AP)/Ca(i)T closely resembled phase 3 early afterdepolarizations. Fast S-CaOs could remain confined to a localized site (concealed) or exhibit varying conduction patterns. This could manifest as (1) an isolated premature beat (PB), bigeminal, or trigeminal rhythm; (2) ventricular tachycardia (VT) when a regular 2:1 conduction from the focal site develops; or (3) ventricular fibrillation (VF) when a complex conduction pattern results in wave break and reentrant excitation. CONCLUSIONS: The study examined, for the first time in the intact heart, the correlation between the kinetics of focal S-CaOs during I/R and arrhythmogenesis. S-CaOs may remain concealed or manifest as PBs, VT, or VF. A "benign looking" PB during I/R may represent "the tip of the iceberg" of an underlying potentially serious arrhythmic mechanism.

Original publication




Journal article


Heart Rhythm

Publication Date





58 - 66


Action Potentials, Animals, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Disease Models, Animal, Electrophysiology, Guinea Pigs, Heart Conduction System, Kinetics, Male, Myocardial Reperfusion Injury, Optics and Photonics