Electrophysiology of Single Cardiomyocytes: Patch Clamp and Other Recording Methods

  • Eric S. Richardson
  • Yong-Fu Xiao


The main function of the heart is to pump blood to the whole body. To accomplish this task, each individual myocyte in a normal heart needs to be electrically connected and mechanically coordinated with others during a cardiac cycle. The heart is composed of excitable myocytes and nonexcitable cells. The excitable cells are responsible for electrical initiation and conduction to activate the whole heart; they are also responsible for mechanical contraction to pump the blood. Therefore, methods and protocols used for studying cellular electrophysiology of single cardiomyocytes are crucial for understanding physiological functions of a normal heart or pathological mechanisms of a diseased heart. Electrophysiological activity of single cells can be investigated with different techniques either in situ in tissue or in isolated and cultured cells. The classical approach is intracellular recording of electrical activity via inserting a sharp electrode into a cardiomyocyte. However, with the patch clamp technique, scientists have learned more details about molecular structures and functions of ion channels, which are the basis of cardiac electrophysiology. Abnormalities of rhythmic initiation and/or wave conduction along the conductive pathway of a heart can lead to arrhythmias. The methods and techniques used in cellular electrophysiology in recent decades have greatly advanced the knowledge of cardiomyocyte function and arrhythmias at cellular and molecular levels. This chapter describes the patch clamp and other recording methods used for studying cardiac action potentials and ion channels.


Patch Clamp Patch Clamp Recording Patch Clamp Experiment Transmembrane Voltage Cardiac Action Potential 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiac Rhythm Disease ManagementMedtronic, Inc.Mounds ViewUSA

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