The System Biology of Sudden Cardiac Death

  • Tomaselli, Gordon F. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) remains a leading cause of death in the western world. Estimates suggest that roughly 10-20% of all annual mortality in the U.S. results from SCD and that approximately 5% of the middle-aged U.S. population has a significant predisposition to SCD. The major causes of SCD in adults age 35 and older are coronary artery disease (CAD;~ 80%) and dilated cardiomyopathy (~10-15%), with risk increasing dramatically with age. While implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are proving to be effective in reducing the occurrence of SCD, wholesale deployment of ICDs in large patient populations is impractical economically and ignores the facts that the majority of patients with ICDs are likely never to require them and that there are as yet no effective means for identifying patients at highest risk for SCD. Working both from the top-down (whole heart optical mapping, anatomical reconstruction and simulation) and from the bottom up (mitochondrial and cellular imaging and modeling), our aim is to achieve an unprecedented level of integration of structure and function in order to understand and model the ways in which coupling between metabolic and electrophysiological processes in the myocyte contribute to risk of cardiac arrhythmias under conditions of metabolic stress. We refer to this as the metabolic sink hypothesis. Cluster Project 1 will test the hypothesis that metabolic sinks may be formed by producing local regions of IKATP activation in the intact-perfused guinea pig (GP) heart and will assess their impact on ventricular conduction and arrhythmia generation. Cluster Project 2 will test the hypothesis that metabolically stressed myocardium is particularly susceptible to formation of metabolic sinks leading to arrhythmia in the setting of heart failure. Cluster Project 3 will develop novel biophysically, metabolically and anatomically detailed computational models of electrical conduction and, in conjunction with Cluster Projects 1 &2, test hypotheses regarding the ways in which the interplay between metabolic and electrophysiological function contributes to generation of arrhythmias under conditions of metabolic stress. The metabolic sink hypothesis has never been tested directly by producing metabolic uncoupling of mitochondria in local regions of myocardium and measuring effects on electrical conduction and generation of arrhythmias. Whether or not failing myocytes are susceptible to metabolic oscillations, whether or not failing tissue is more or less susceptible to formation of metabolic sinks than is normal tissue, and whether or not metabolic sinks form a substrate for reentry in failing myocardium is unknown. This project will test these hypotheses and the results will have major importance for our understanding of the mechanisms and treatment of arrhythmias.
Effective start/end date9/1/078/31/12


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $332,376.00
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $332,376.00
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: $332,607.00


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