Heterogeneous connexin43 expression produces electrophysiological heterogeneities across ventricular wall

Steven Poelzing, Fadi G. Akar, Elvera Baron, David S. Rosenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently we found that electrophysiological (EP) heterogeneities between subepicardial and midmyocardial cells can form a substrate for reentrant ventricular arrhythmias. However, cell-to-cell coupling through gap junctions is expected to attenuate transmural heterogeneities between cell types spanning the ventricular wall. Because connexin43 (Cx43) is the principal ventricular gap junction protein, we hypothesized that transmural EP heterogeneities are in part produced by heterogeneous Cx43 expression across the ventricular wall. The left ventricles of eight dogs were sectioned to expose the transmural surface. To determine whether heterogeneous Cx43 expression influenced EP function, high-resolution transmural optical mapping of the arterially perfused canine wedge preparation was used to measure transmural conduction velocity (θTM), dV/dtmax, transmural space constant (λTM), and transmural gradients of action potential duration (APD). Relative Cx43 expression, quantified by confocal immunofluorescence, was significantly lower (by 24 ± 17%; P < 0.05) in subepicardial compared with deeper layers. Importantly, reduced subepicardial Cx43 was associated with transmural heterogeneities of EP function evidenced by selectively reduced subepicardial θTM (by 18 ± 9%; P < 0.05) compared with deeper layers. In subepicardial regions, dV/dtmax was fastest (by 19 ± 15%) and λTM was smallest (by 18.1 ± 2%), which suggests that conduction slowing was attributable to localized uncoupling rather than reduced excitability. The maximum transmural APD gradients occurred in the same regions where Cx43 expression was lowest; this suggests that Cx43 expression patterns served to maintain APD gradients across the transmural wall. These data demonstrate that heterogeneous Cx43 expression is closely associated with functionally significant EP heterogeneities across the transmural wall. Therefore, Cx43 expression patterns can potentially contribute to arrhythmic substrates that are dependent on transmural electrophysiological heterogeneities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2001-H2009
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5 55-5
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Action potentials
  • Coupling
  • Gap junction
  • Optical mapping
  • Repolarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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