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Electro-mechanical dynamics of spiral waves in a discrete 2D model of human atrial tissue

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Article numbere0176607
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/05/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS ONE
Issue number5
Number of pages21
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We investigate the effect of mechano-electrical feedback and atrial fibrillation induced electrical remodelling (AFER) of cellular ion channel properties on the dynamics of spiral waves in a discrete 2D model of human atrial tissue. The tissue electro-mechanics are modelled using the discrete element method (DEM). Millions of bonded DEM particles form a network of coupled atrial cells representing 2D cardiac tissue, allowing simulations of the dynamic behaviour of electrical excitation waves and mechanical contraction in the tissue. In the tissue model, each cell is modelled by nine particles, accounting for the features of individual cellular geometry; and discrete inter-cellular spatial arrangement of cells is also considered. The electro-mechanical model of a human atrial single-cell was constructed by strongly coupling the electrophysiological model of Colman et al. to the mechanicalmyofilament model of Rice et al., with parameters modified based on experimental data. A stretch-activated channel was incorporated into the model to simulate the mechano-electrical feedback. In order to investigate the effect of mechano-electrical feedback on the dynamics of spiral waves, simulations of spiral waves were conducted in both the electromechanical model and the electrical-only model in normal and AFER conditions, to allow direct comparison of the results between the models. Dynamics of spiral waves were characterized by tracing their tip trajectories, stability, excitation frequencies and meandering range of tip trajectories. It was shown that the developed DEM method provides a stable and efficient model of human atrial tissue with considerations of the intrinsically discrete and anisotropic properties of the atrial tissue, which are challenges to handle in traditional continuum mechanics models. This study provides mechanistic insights into the complex behaviours of spiral waves and the genesis of atrial fibrillation by showing an important role of the mechano-electrical feedback in facilitating and promoting atrial fibrillation.