Phase resetting of the rhythmic activity of embryonic heart cell aggregates. Experiment and theory

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Injection of a current pulse of brief duration into an aggregate of spontaneously beating chick embryonic heart cells resets the phase of the activity by either advancing or delaying the time of occurrence of the spontaneous beat subsequent to current injection. This effect depends upon the polarity, amplitude, and duration of the current pulse, as well as on the time of injection of the pulse. The transition from prolongation to shortening of the interbeat interval appears experimentally to be discontinuous for some stimulus conditions. These observations are analyzed by numerical investigation of a model of the ionic currents that underlie spontaneous activity in these preparations. The model consists of: Ix, which underlies the repolarization phase of the action potential, IK2, a time-dependent potassium ion pacemaker current, Ibg, a background or time-independent current, and INa, an inward sodium ion current that underlies the upstroke of the action potential. The steady state amplitude of the sum of these currents is an N-shaped function of potential. Slight shifts in the position of this current-voltage relation along the current axis can produce either one, two, or three intersections with the voltage axis. The number of these equilibrium points and the voltage dependence of INa contribute to apparent discontinuities of phase resetting. A current-voltage relation with three equilibrium points has a saddle point in the pacemaker voltage range. Certain combinations of current-pulse parameters and timing of injection can shift the state point near this saddle point and lead to an interbeat interval that is unbounded . Activation of INa is steeply voltage dependent. This results in apparently discontinuous phase resetting behavior for sufficiently large pulse amplitudes regardless of the number of equilibrium points. However, phase resetting is fundamentally a continuous function of the time of pulse injection for these conditions. These results demonstrate the ionic basis of phase resetting and provide a framework for topological analysis of this phenomenon in chick embryonic heart cell aggregates. © 1984, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.




Clay, J. R., Guevara, M. R., & Shrier, A. (1984). Phase resetting of the rhythmic activity of embryonic heart cell aggregates. Experiment and theory. Biophysical Journal, 45(4), 699–714.

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