Effects of Perfusate Solution Composition on the Relationship between Cardiac Conduction Velocity and Gap Junction Coupling


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Virginia Tech


Reproducibility of results in biomedical research is an area of concern that should be paramount for all researchers. Importantly, this issue has been examined for experiments concerning cardiac electrophysiology. Specifically, multiple labs have found differences in results when comparing cardiac conduction velocity (CV) between healthy mice and mice that were heterozygous null for the gap junction (GJ) forming protein, Connexin 43. While the results of the comparison study showed differing extracellular ionic concentrations of the perfusates, specifically sodium, potassium, and calcium ([Na+]o, [K+]o, and [Ca2+]o), there was a lack of understanding why certain combinations of the aforementioned ions led to specific CV changes. However, more research from our lab indicates that these changes can predict modifications to a secondary form of cardiac coupling known as ephaptic coupling (EpC). Therefore the work in this dissertation was twofold, 1) to examine the effects of modulating EpC through perfusate ionic concentrations while also modulating GJC and 2) to investigate the effects of modulating all three of the main ions contributed with cardiac conduction (Na+, K+, Ca2+) and the interplay between them.

Firstly I designed and tested changes from the use of 3D printed bath for optical mapping procedures. After verification that the bath did not modify electrophysiological or contrile parameters, I studied the effects of physiologic changes to EpC determinants ([Na+]o and [K+]o) on CV during various states of GJ inhibition using the non-specific GJ uncoupler carbenoxolone (CBX). Multiple pacing rates were used to further modify EpC, as an increased pacing rate leads to a decrease in sodium channel availability through modification of the resting membrane potential. with no to low (0 and 15 µM CBX) GJ inhibition, physiologic changes in [Na+]o and [K+]o did not affect CV, however increasing pacing rate decreased CV as expected. When CBX was increased to 30 µM, a combination of decreasing [Na+]o and increasing [K+]o significantly decreased cardiac CV, specifically when pacing rate was increased.

Next, the combinatory effects of cations associated with EpC (Na+, K+, and Ca2+) were tested in to examine how cardiac CV reacts to changes in perfusate solution and how this may explain differences in experimental outcomes between laboratories. Briefly, experiments were run where [K+]o was varied throughout an experiment and the values for [Na+]o and [Ca2+]o were at one of two specific values during an experiment. 30 µM CBX was added to half of the experiments to see the changes in the CV-[K+]o relationship with GJ inhibition. With unaltered GJ coupling, elevated [Na+]o maintains CV during hyperkalemia. Interestingly, both [Na+]o and [Ca2+]o must be increased to maintain normal CV during hyperkalemia with reduced GJ coupling. These data suggest that optimized fluids can sustain normal conduction under pathophysiologic conditions like hyperkalemia and GJ uncoupling. Taken as a whole, this dissertation attempts to shed light on the importance of ionic concentration balance in perfusate solutions on cardiac conduction.



Cardiac electrophysiology, ephaptic coupling