Dissolution of spiral wave′s core using cardiac optogenetics


Rotating spiral waves in the heart are associated with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation. These arrhythmias are treated by a process called defibrillation, which forces electrical resynchronization of the heart tissue by delivering a single global high-voltage shock directly to the heart. This method leads to immediate termination of spiral waves. However, this may not be the only mechanism underlying successful defibrillation, as certain scenarios have also been reported, where the arrhythmia terminated slowly, over a finite period of time. Here, we investigate the slow termination dynamics of an arrhythmia in optogenetically modified murine cardiac tissue both in silico and ex vivo during global illumination at low light intensities. Optical imaging of an intact mouse heart during a ventricular arrhythmia shows slow termination of the arrhythmia, which is due to action potential prolongation observed during the last rotation of the wave. Our numerical studies show that when the core of a spiral is illuminated, it begins to expand, pushing the spiral arm towards the inexcitable boundary of the domain, leading to termination of the spiral wave. We believe that these fundamental findings lead to a better understanding of arrhythmia dynamics during slow termination, which in turn has implications for the improvement and development of new cardiac defibrillation techniques.

PLoS Computational Biology 19: e1011660