The cellular electrophysiologic effects of digitalis on human atrial fibers.
We used microelectrode techniques to study the indirect and direct actions of ouabain on human atrial fibers (HAF) obtained from patients with congenital heart disease undergoing open heart surgery. At 15 min of superfusion ouabain, 2 X 10(-7) M, induced an increase in maximum diastolic potential (MDP), action potential (AP) amplitude and upstroke velocity of phase 0 depolarization (Vmax) and a decrease in AP duration. Spontaneously beating HAF showed a decrease in automaticity. Acetylcholine (3 X 10(-6) M) induced identical effects on AP characteristics and automaticity. Prior treatment with atropine (1 X 10 (-6) M) blocked these effects of ouabain and acetylcholine. Superfusion with ouabain (2 X 10 (-7) M) for 30 to 90 min resulted in decreased MDP, AP amplitude and Vmax, and a further decrease in AP duration. Phase 4 depolarization and spontaneous rate increased and delayed afterdepolarization and tachyarrythmia occurred. The ACh-like effects of digitalis decrease automaticity and increase MDP of HAF; the direct effects decrease MDP, increase automaticity, and induce tachyarrythmias.
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