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Electrophysiological alternans and restitution during acute regional ischemia in myocardium on anesthetized pig


, : Electrophysiological alternans and restitution during acute regional ischemia in myocardium on anesthetized pig. Journal of Physiology (Cambridge) 402: 315-334

1. Alternate long and short action potential durations, or electrical alternans, has only been sporadically observed in ischaemic myocardium in situ. We systematically studied alternans in the latter to characterize the phenomenon, relate it to ventricular arrhythmia and suggest possible mechanisms. 2. Sixteen Landrace pigs were anaesthetized (Azaperone, N2O and O2), ventilated and the hearts exposed. A branch of the left coronary artery was ligated. Left intraventricular and systemic pressures were monitored. Monophasic action potentials were recorded simultaneously with up to five suction electrodes in and around the proposed ischaemia area. 3. A computer measured the duration of every action potential, at several phases of repolarization, throughout the first hour of ischaemia. This allowed the systematic study of the alternans. Measurements during defined stimulus protocols were also made for the construction of electrical restitution curves. 4. Alternans was found in all recordings within the ischaemic area and in two-thirds of those in the 'border' area. There was no alternans in non-ischaemic areas. 5. The alternans, when action potential duration was plotted for every beat, appeared as an oscillation which was pleomorphic. It could be: (a) stable for hundreds of beats; (b) switched or triggered (by one extraneous beat having a different cycle length) between one stable state with high and one with low or absent alternans; (c) damped; (d) undamped to take a crescendo form, sometimes preceding ventricular fibrillation. 6. The alternans in general showed an ill-defined peak incidence between about 200 to 1500 beats after the onset of ischaemia, and a clearer late peak at about 3000 beats. These periods occurred at about 2-7 min and 15-40 min, corresponding to so-called phase 1 A and 1 B arrhythmia respectively. Only the late peak was seen with triggered alternans. 7. The electrical restitution curve for the action potential duration during ischaemia when compared with curves, constructed with data from non-ischaemic myocardium, showed a progressive depression in plateau, a reduction in magnitude and was flattened at 1 h. However, there was a reversal or reduction in decline at about 15-45 min. 8. We propose that electrical alternans is a distinctive electrophysiological characteristic of ischaemic myocardium which may be causally related to ventricular arrhythmia and fibrillation, and that at least two mechanisms contribute to the alternans: (i) electrical restitution of the action potential and (ii) changes in intracellular calcium cycling.

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