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BACKGROUND: Arrhythmias may originate from surgically unaffected right ventricular (RV) regions in patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). We aimed to investigate action potential (AP) remodelling and arrhythmia susceptibility in RV myocardium of patients with repaired and with unrepaired TOF, identify possible correlations with clinical phenotype and myocardial fibrosis, and compare findings with data from patients with atrial septal defect (ASD), a less severe congenital heart disease. METHODS: Intracellular AP were recorded ex vivo in RV outflow tract samples from 22 TOF and three ASD patients. Arrhythmias were provoked by superfusion with solutions containing reduced potassium and barium chloride, or isoprenaline. Myocardial fibrosis was quantified histologically and associations between clinical phenotype, AP shape, tissue arrhythmia propensity, and fibrosis were examined. RESULTS: Electrophysiological abnormalities (arrhythmias, AP duration [APD] alternans, impaired APD shortening at increased stimulation frequencies) were generally present in TOF tissue, even from infants, but rare or absent in ASD samples. More severely diseased and acyanotic patients, pronounced tissue susceptibility to arrhythmogenesis, and greater fibrosis extent were associated with longer APD. In contrast, APD was shorter in tissue from patients with pre-operative cyanosis. Increased fibrosis and repaired-TOF status were linked to tissue arrhythmia inducibility. CONCLUSIONS: Functional and structural tissue remodelling may explain arrhythmic activity in TOF patients, even at a very young age. Surprisingly, clinical acyanosis appears to be associated with more severe arrhythmogenic remodelling. Further research into the clinical drivers of structural and electrical myocardial alterations, and the relation between them, is needed to identify predictive factors for patients at risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Res Cardiol

Publication Date





716 - 727


Arrhythmias, Congenital heart disease, Electrophysiology, Fibrosis, Humans, Tetralogy of Fallot, Action Potentials, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Fibrosis, Heart Septal Defects, Atrial, Patient Acuity