Slow Calcium-Depolarization-Calcium waves may initiate fast local depolarization waves in ventricular tissue

Aslak Tveito, Glenn Terje Lines, Andrew G. Edwards, Mary M. Maleckar, Anushka Michailova, Johan Hake, Andrew McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Intercellular calcium waves in cardiac myocytes are a well-recognized, if incompletely understood, phenomenon. In a variety of preparations, investigators have reported multi-cellular calcium waves or triggered propagated contractions, but the mechanisms of propagation and pathological importance of these events remain unclear. Here, we review existing experimental data and present a computational approach to investigate the mechanisms of multi-cellular calcium wave propagation. Over the past 50 years, the standard modeling paradigm for excitable cardiac tissue has seen increasingly detailed models of the dynamics of individual cells coupled in tissue solely by intercellular and interstitial current flow. Although very successful, this modeling regime has been unable to capture two important phenomena: 1) the slow intercellular calcium waves observed experimentally, and 2) how intercellular calcium events resulting in delayed after depolarizations at the cellular level could overcome a source-sink mismatch to initiate depolarization waves in tissue. In this paper, we introduce a mathematical model with subcellular spatial resolution, in which we allow both inter- and intracellular current flow and calcium diffusion. In simulations of coupled cells employing this model, we observe: a) slow inter-cellular calcium waves propagating at about 0.1 mm/s, b) faster Calcium-Depolarization-Calcium (CDC) waves, traveling at about 1 mm/s, and c) CDC-waves that can set off fast depolarization-waves (50 cm/s) in tissue with varying gap-junction conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium diffusion
  • Calcium waves
  • Conduction velocity
  • Delayed after depolarizations
  • Depolarization waves
  • Gap-junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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