Paradoxical Improvement of Impulse Conduction in Cardiac Tissue by Partial Cellular Uncoupling

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Science  07 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5301, pp. 841-844
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5301.841

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Generally, impulse propagation in cardiac tissue is assumed to be impaired by a reduction of intercellular electrical coupling or by the presence of structural discontinuities. Contrary to this notion, the spatially uniform reduction of electrical coupling induced successful conduction in discontinuous cardiac tissue structures exhibiting unidirectional conduction block. This seemingly paradoxical finding can be explained by a nonsymmetric effect of uncoupling on the current source and the current sink in the preparations used. It suggests that partial cellular uncoupling might prevent the initiation of cardiac arrhythmias that are dependent on the presence of unidirectional conduction block.

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