Advanced Cardiac Rhythm Management by Applying Optogenetic Multi-Site Photostimulation in Murine Hearts


Ventricular tachyarrhythmias are a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Electrical defibrillation using high-energy electric shocks is currently the only treatment for life-threatening ventricular fibrillation. However, defibrillation may have side-effects, including intolerable pain, tissue damage, and worsening of prognosis, indicating a significant medical need for the development of more gentle cardiac rhythm management strategies. Besides energy-reducing electrical approaches, cardiac optogenetics was introduced as a powerful tool to influence cardiac activity using light-sensitive membrane ion channels and light pulses. In the present study, a robust and valid method for successful photostimulation of Langendorff perfused intact murine hearts will be described based on multi-site pacing applying a 3 x 3 array of micro light-emitting diodes (micro-LED). Simultaneous optical mapping of epicardial membrane voltage waves allows the investigation of the effects of region-specific stimulation and evaluates the newly induced cardiac activity directly on-site. The obtained results show that the efficacy of defibrillation is strongly dependent on the parameters chosen for photostimulation during a cardiac arrhythmia. It will be demonstrated that the illuminated area of the heart plays a crucial role for termination success as well as how the targeted control of cardiac activity during illumination for modifying arrhythmia patterns can be achieved. In summary, this technique provides a possibility to optimize the on-site mechanism manipulation on the way to real-time feedback control of cardiac rhythm and, regarding the region specificity, new approaches in reducing the potential harm to the cardiac system compared to the usage of non-specific electrical shock applications.

Journal of Visualized Experiments 174: e62335