Cardiac mechano-electric feedback: past, present, and prospect.
Kohl P., Ravens U.
Mechanical effects on heart rhythm have been known to the clinical community for well over a century, and documented cases include both arrhythmogenic and pro-rhythmic consequences of mechanical stimulation. The intracardiac pathway that leads from changes in the cardiac mechanical environment to altered electrical activity is referred to as mechano-electric feedback (MEF). Fundamental research into the mechanisms underlying cardiac MEF is 'engineering-intensive', and much of the current insight would have been impossible without the introduction of novel techniques for the study of isolated cardiac cells. Clinical and basic research into MEF have developed over different time scales, often uninformed of each other, and utilizing disparate concepts and terminology. Bridging the gap between the two domains is not straightforward, as physicians and scientists tend to publish in different journals and attend different meetings. There is, however, a growing interest in 're-uniting' the clinic and basic MEF research, as witnessed by an increasing number of dedicated journal issues and international meetings, including events hosted by major European and American professional organisations such as the ESC and NASPE. Last year alone saw an international workshop on Cardiac MEF & Arrhythmias at Oxford, as well as dedicated sessions at NASPE's 23rd annual meeting in San Diego, CardioStim 2002 in Nice, and the UK Physiological Society meeting in Leeds. This volume of Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology incorporates clinical and basic science results, and it is fitting that its publication coincides with a special session on cardiac MEF at the 2003 meeting of NASPE.