Integrative Cardiac Bioelectricity Group
Cardiac function relies on the coordinated propagation of the action potential (AP), the rhythmic electrical signal that triggers the contraction of every cardiac cell. Arrhythmias are frequent complications of heart disease and can potentiate heart failure, lead to stroke and cause sudden death. The AP is an intricate dynamic phenomenon, which relies on the function of ion channels. The complexity of the AP and of cardiac conduction explains why the prevention and treatment of arrhythmias still remains a great challenge. Our research addresses cardiac conduction with an interdisciplinary approach unifying in vitro experiments and computer simulations. In vitro, we use a custom developed system to stimulate and record the electrical activity of cardiac cell cultures with microelectrode arrays. This approach is combined with techniques to pattern the cultures to predefined geometries. In computer simulations, we reconstruct conduction using mathematical models of the cardiac cell. These simulations provide insights into aspects not accessible experimentally.
A 80 μm wide cardiac cell strand was grown on a row of microelectrodes spaced 300 μm apart (leads visible on the right of the strand). The extracellular electrodes permitted to record an action potential that propagated from bottom to top (arrows).
Jan P. Kucera, Prof. Dr. med.
Department of Physiology
University of Bern
Tel: +41 31 684 87 59