Investigating the mechanisms underlying the genesis and conduction of electrical excitation in the atria at physiological and pathological states is of great importance. To provide knowledge concerning the mechanisms of excitation, we constructed a biophysical detailed and anatomically accurate computer model of human atria that incorporates both structural and electrophysiological heterogeneities.
The three-dimensional geometry was extracted from the visible female dataset. The sinoatrial node (SAN) and atrium, including crista terminalis (CT), pectinate muscles (PM), appendages (APG) and Bachmann's bundle (BB) were segmented in this work. Fibre orientation in CT, PM and BB was set to local longitudinal direction.
Descriptions for all used cell types were based on modifications of the Courtemanche et al. model of a human atrial cell. Maximum conductances of , and were modified for PM, CT, APG and atrioventricular ring to reproduce measured action potentials (AP). Pacemaker activity in the human SAN was reproduced by removing , but including , , and gradients of channel conductances as described in previous studies for heterogeneous rabbit SAN.
Anisotropic conduction was computed with a monodomain model using the finite element method. The transversal to longitudinal ratio of conductivity for PM, CT and BB was 1 : 9. Atrial working myocardium (AWM) was set to be isotropic.
Simulation of atrial electrophysiology showed initiation of APs in the SAN centre. The excitation spread afterwards to the periphery near to the region of the CT and preferentially towards the atrioventricular region. The excitation extends over the right atrium along PM. Both CT and PM activated the right AWM. Earliest activation of the left atrium was through BB and excitation spread over to the APG. The conduction velocities were 0.6 m s−1 for AWM, 1.2 m s−1 for CT, 1.6 m s−1 for PM and 1.1 m s−1 for BB at a rate of 63 bpm.
The simulations revealed that bundles form dominant pathways for atrial conduction. The preferential conduction towards CT and along PM is comparable with clinical mapping. Repolarization is more homogeneous than excitation due to the heterogeneous distribution of electrophysiological properties and hence the action potential duration.
One contribution of 15 to a Theme Issue ‘Biomathematical modelling II’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society