Macro-micro imaging of cardiac-neural circuits in co-cultures from normal and diseased hearts.
Bub G., Burton RA.
The autonomic nervous system plays an important role in the modulation of normal cardiac rhythm, but is also implicated in modulating the heart's susceptibility to re-entrant ventricular and atrial arrhythmias. The mechanisms by which the autonomic nervous system is pro-arrhythmic or anti-arrhythmic is multifaceted and varies for different types of arrhythmia and their cardiac substrates. Despite decades of research in this area, fundamental questions related to how neuron density and spatial organization modulate cardiac wave dynamics remain unanswered. These questions may be ill-posed in intact tissues where the activity of individual cells is often experimentally inaccessible. Development of simplified biological models that would allow us to better understand the influence of neural activation on cardiac activity can be beneficial. This Symposium Review summarizes the development of in vitro cardiomyocyte cell culture models of re-entrant activity, as well as challenges associated with extending these models to include the effects of neural activation.