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Multiscale Determinants of Delayed Afterdepolarization Amplitude in Cardiac Tissue


Spontaneous calcium (Ca) waves in cardiac myocytes underlie delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs) that trigger cardiac arrhythmias. How these subcellular/cellular events overcome source-sink factors in cardiac tissue to generate DADs of sufficient amplitude to trigger action potentials is not fully understood. Here, we evaluate quantitatively how factors at the subcellular scale (number of Ca wave initiation sites), cellular scale (sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca load), and tissue scale (synchrony of Ca release in populations of myocytes) determine DAD features in cardiac tissue using a combined experimental and computational modeling approach. Isolated patch-clamped rabbit ventricular myocytes loaded with Fluo-4 to image intracellular Ca were rapidly paced during exposure to elevated extracellular Ca (2.7 mmol/L) and isoproterenol (0.25 μmol/L) to induce diastolic Ca waves and subthreshold DADs. As the number of paced beats increased from 1 to 5, SR Ca content (assessed with caffeine pulses) increased, the number of Ca wave initiation sites increased, integrated Ca transients and DADs became larger and shorter in duration, and the latency period to the onset of Ca waves shortened with reduced variance. In silico analysis using a computer model of ventricular tissue incorporating these experimental measurements revealed that whereas all of these factors promoted larger DADs with higher probability of generating triggered activity, the latency period variance and SR Ca load had the greatest influences. Therefore, incorporating quantitative experimental data into tissue level simulations reveals that increased intracellular Ca promotes DAD-mediated triggered activity in tissue predominantly by increasing both the synchrony (decreasing latency variance) of Ca waves in nearby myocytes and SR Ca load, whereas the number of Ca wave initiation sites per myocyte is less important.

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