AimsThe steepness of the action potential duration (APD) restitution curve and local tissue refractoriness are both thought to play important roles in arrhythmogenesis. Despite this, there has been little recognition of the apparent association between steady-state APD and the slope of the restitution curve. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that restitution slope is determined by APD and to examine the relationship between restitution slope, refractoriness and susceptibility to VF.
Methods and resultsExperiments were conducted in isolated hearts and ventricular myocytes from adult guinea pigs and rabbits. Restitution curves were measured under control conditions and following intervention to prolong (clofilium, veratridine, bretylium, low [Ca]e, chronic transverse aortic constriction) or shorten (catecholamines, rapid pacing) ventricular APD. Despite markedly differing mechanisms of action, all interventions that prolonged the action potential led to a steepening of the restitution curve (and vice versa). Normalizing the restitution curve as a % of steady-state APD abolished the difference in restitution curves with all interventions. Effects on restitution were preserved when APD was modulated by current injection in myocytes pre-treated with the calcium chelator BAPTA-AM - to abolish the intracellular calcium transient. The non-linear relation between APD and the rate of repolarization of the action potential is shown to underpin the common influence of APD on the slope of the restitution curve. Susceptibility to VF was found to parallel changes in APD/refractoriness, rather than restitution slope.
Conclusion(s)Steady-state APD is the principal determinant of the slope of the ventricular electrical restitution curve. In the absence of post-repolarization refractoriness, factors that prolong the action potential would be expected to steepen the restitution curve. However, concomitant changes in tissue refractoriness act to reduce susceptibility to sustained VF. Dependence on steady-state APD may contribute to the failure of restitution slope to predict sudden cardiac death.
SUBMITTER: Shattock MJ