Heterogeneous mechanical dyskinesis has been implicated in many arrhythmogenic phenotypes. Strain-dependent perturbations to cardiomyocyte electrophysiology may contribute to this arrhythmogenesis through processes referred to as mechanoelectric feedback. Although the role of stretch-activated ion currents has been investigated using computational models, experimental studies suggest that mechanical strain may also promote arrhythmia by facilitating calcium wave propagation. To investigate whether strain-dependent changes in calcium affinity to the myofilament may promote arrhythmogenic intracellular calcium waves, we modified a mathematical model of rabbit excitation-contraction coupling coupled to a model of myofilament activation and force development. In a one-dimensional compartmental analysis, we bidirectionally coupled 50 sarcomere models in series to model calcium diffusion and stress transfer between adjacent sarcomeres. These considerations enabled the model to capture 1) the effects of mechanical feedback on calcium homeostasis at the sarcomeric level and 2) the combined effects of mechanical and calcium heterogeneities at the cellular level. The results suggest that in conditions of calcium overload, the vulnerable window of stretch-release to trigger suprathreshold delayed afterdepolarizations can be affected by heterogeneity in sarcomere length. Furthermore, stretch and sarcomere heterogeneity may modulate the susceptibility threshold for delayed afterdepolarizations and the aftercontraction wave propagation velocity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas