Phase resetting and entrainment of pacemaker activity in single sinus nodal cells.
The phase-resetting and entrainment properties of single pacemaker cells were studied using computer simulations in a model of the rabbit sinus nodal cell, as well as using the whole-cell patch-clamp (current-clamp) technique in isolated rabbit sinus nodal cells. Spontaneous electrical activity in the cell model was reconstructed using Hodgkin-Huxley-type equations describing time- and voltage-dependent membrane currents. In both simulations and experiments, single subthreshold current pulses (depolarizing or hyperpolarizing) were used to scan the spontaneous cycle of the cells. Such pulses perturbed the subsequent discharge, producing temporary phasic changes in pacemaker period, and enabled the construction of phase response curves. On the basis of these results, we studied entrainment characteristics of the cells. For example, application of repetitive pulses allowed for phasic changes in the spontaneous cycle and resulted in stable 1:1 entrainment at a range of basic cycle length around the spontaneous cycle, or a 2:1 pattern at basic cycle length values about half the spontaneous cycle length. Between the two entrainment zones, complex Wenckebach-like patterns (e.g., 5:4, 4:3, and 3:2) were observed. The experimental data from the isolated cell were further analyzed from a theoretical perspective, and the results showed that the topological characteristics of the phase-resetting behavior accounts for the experimentally observed patterns during repetitive stimulation of the cell. This first demonstration of phase resetting in single cells provides the basis for phenomena such as mutual entrainment between electrically coupled pacemaker cells, apparent intranodal conduction, and reflex vagal control of heart rate.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association