Original Article

Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 461-472

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Influence of ischemic core muscle fibers on surface depolarization potentials in superfused cardiac tissue preparations: a simulation study

  • Fernando O. CamposAffiliated withInstitute of Biophysics, Medical University of Graz
  • , Anton J. PrasslAffiliated withInstitute of Biophysics, Medical University of Graz
  • , Gunnar SeemannAffiliated withInstitute of Biomedical Engineering, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • , Rodrigo Weber dos SantosAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science and the Graduate Program in Computational Modeling, Federal University of Juiz de Fora
  • , Gernot PlankAffiliated withInstitute of Biophysics, Medical University of GrazOxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford Email author 
  • , Ernst HoferAffiliated withInstitute of Biophysics, Medical University of Graz


Thin-walled cardiac tissue samples superfused with oxygenated solutions are widely used in experimental studies. However, due to decreased oxygen supply and insufficient wash out of waste products in the inner layers of such preparations, electrophysiological functions could be compromised. Although the cascade of events triggered by cutting off perfusion is well known, it remains unclear as to which degree electrophysiological function in viable surface layers is affected by pathological processes occurring in adjacent tissue. Using a 3D numerical bidomain model, we aim to quantify the impact of superfusion-induced heterogeneities occurring in the depth of the tissue on impulse propagation in superficial layers. Simulations demonstrated that both the pattern of activation as well as the distribution of extracellular potentials close to the surface remain essentially unchanged. This was true also for the electrophysiological properties of cells in the surface layer, where most relevant depolarization parameters varied by less than 5.5 %. The main observed effect on the surface was related to action potential duration that shortened noticeably by 53 % as hypoxia deteriorated. Despite the known limitations of such experimental methods, we conclude that superfusion is adequate for studying impulse propagation and depolarization whereas repolarization studies should consider the influence of pathological processes taking place at the core of tissue sample.


Cardiac electrophysiology Computer simulations Extracellular potentials Myocardial ischemia Superfusion