The Possibility of Propagation between Myocardial Cells not Connected by Low-Resistance Pathways

  • Nick Sperelakis
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 161)


The vertebrate myocardium is an assembly of short individual cells, separated at their ends by the intercalated disks (ID). The fluid in the ID gap is continuous with the bulk interstitial fluid, and the gap thickness averages about 200 A (Sperelakis and Rubio, 1971). Regions in which the two membranes come into closer proximity (about 20 A), the gap junctions, are found abundantly in mammalian hearts, but such specialized contacts are rare and much smaller in area in lower vertebrates (for references, see Sperelakis, 1979). A step on the rising phase of the action potential, resembling a post-junctional potential, becomes prominent under conditions of impeded propagation (Hoshiko and Sperelakis, 1962). Increase in gap width occurs in conditions that depress propagation (see Sperelakis, 1979), and the cell-to-cell transmission process is labile (Sperelakis and Hoshiko, 1961; Sperelakis, 1969). Contiguous cells become functionally disconnected at the IDs following focal injury (De Mello, 1972) and under other experimental conditions (see review by Sperelakis, 1979).


Cardiac Muscle Myocardial Cell Heart Cell External Resistance Intercalate Disk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baldwin, K.M. Cell-to-cell tracer movement in cardiac muscle: Ruthenium red vs lanthanum. Cell Tiss. Res. 221, 279–294 (1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barr, L., Dewey, M.M., and W. Berger. Propagation of action potentials and the structure of the nexus in cardiac muscle. J. Gen. Physiol. 48, 797–823 (1965).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beder, S.D. and Skinner, J.E. Cardiac cellular electrophysiology in awake conscious pigs: membrane cable properties. Circulation 64, IV-116, Abstr. #428 (.1981).Google Scholar
  4. Beeler, G.W. and Reuter, H. Reconstruction of the action potential of ventricular myocardial fibers. J. Physiol. 268, 177–210 (1977).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. De Mello, W.C. The healing-over process in cardiac and other muscle fibers. In: Electrical Phenomena in Heart (W.C. De Mello, ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 323–351 (1972).Google Scholar
  6. De Mello, W.C. Effect of intracellular injection of calcium and strontium on cell communication in heart. J. Physiol. 250, 231–245 (1975).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Diaz, P.J., Rudy, Y., and Plonsey, R. A cardiac propagation model with intercalated discs. (Abstr.) 34th ACEMB meeting, Houston, Sept. 21–23, p. 217 (1981).Google Scholar
  8. Forbes, M.S. and Sperelakis, N. Ultrastructure of lizard ventricular muscle. J. Ultrastruct. Res. 34, 439–451 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Heppner, D.B. and Plonsey, R. Simulation of eleetrical interaction of cardiac cells. Biophys. J. 10, 1057–1075 (1970).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoshiko, T. and Sperelakis, N. Prepotentials and unidirectional propagation in myocardium. Am. J. Physiol. 201, 873–880 (1961).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hoshiko, T. and Sperelakis, N. Components of the cardiac action potential. Am. J. Physiol. 203, 258–260 (1962).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kline, R. and Morad, M. Potassium efflux and accumulation in heart muscle. Biophys. J. 16, 367–372 (1976).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Knowles, W.D., Funch, P.G., and Schwartzkroin, P.A. Electrotonic and dye coupling in hippocampal CAI pyramidal cells in vitro. (in press).Google Scholar
  14. Korn, H. and Faber, D.S. Electrical field effect interactions in the vertebrate brain. Trends in Neuroscience 3(1), 6–9 (1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Macdonald, R.L., Hsu, D., Mann, J.E., and Sperelakis, N. An analysis of the problem of Kaccumulation in the intercalated disk clefts of cardiac muscle. J. Theor. Biol. 51, 455–473 (1975).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mann, J.E., Jr., Foley, E., and Sperelakis, N. Resistance and potential profiles in the cleft between two myocardial cells: electrical analog and computer simulations. J. Theor. Biol. 68, 1–15 (1977).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mann, J.E. and Sperelakis, N. Further development of a model for electrical transmission between myocardial cells not connected by low-resistance pathways. J. Electrocardiol. 12, 23–33 (1979).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mann, J.E., Sperelakis, N., and Ruffner, J.A. Alteration in sodium channel gate kinetics of the Hodgkin-Huxley equations applied to an electric field model for interaction between excitable cells. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng. 28, 655–661 (1981).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McLean, M.J. and Sperelakis, N. Difference in degree of electrotonic interactions between highly differentiated and reverted cultured heart cell reaggregates. J. Memb. Biol. 57, 37–50 (1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Noble, D. A modification of the Hodgkin-Huxley equations applicable to Purkinje fiber action and pacemaker potentials. J. Physiol. 160, 317–352 (1962).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Page, E., McCallister, L.P. Studies on the intercalated disk of rat left ventricular myocardial cells. J. Ultastruct. Res. 43, 388–411 (1973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Plonsey, R. and Rudy, Y. Electrocardiogram sources in a 2-dimen-sional anisotropic activation model. Med. Biol. Eng. Comput. 18, 87–94 (1980).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ruffner, J., Sperelakis, N., and Mann, J.E., Jr. Application of the Hodgkin-Huxley equations to an electric field model for interactions between excitable cells. J. Theor. Biol. 87, 129–152 (1980).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Spach, M.S., Miller, W.T., III, Geselowitz, D.B., Barr, R.C., Kootsey, J.M., and Johnson, E.A. The discontinuous nature of propagation in normal canine cardiac muscle. Evidence for recurrent discontinuity of intracellular resistance that affects the membrane currents. Circ. Res. 48, 39–54 (1981).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Sperelakis, N. Additional evidence for high-resistance intercalated discs in the myocardium. Circulation Res. 12, 676–683 (1963).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Sperelakis, N. Lack of electrical coupling between contiguous myocardial cells in vertebrate hearts. In: Comparative Physiology of the Heart: Current Trends, (F.V. McCann, ed.), Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel, Switzerland, pp. 135–165 (1969).Google Scholar
  27. Sperelakis, N. Propagation mechanisms in heart. Ann. Rev. Physiol. 41, 441–457 (1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sperelakis, N, and Macdonald, R.L. Ratio of transverse to longitudinal resistivities of isolated cardiac muscle fiber bundles. J. Electrocardiol. 7, 301–314 (1974).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sperelakis, N. and Hoshiko, T. Electrical impedance of cardiac muscle. Circ. Res. 9, 1280–1283 (1961).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Sperelakis, N. and Lehmkuhl, D. Effect of current on transmembrane potentials in cultured chick heart cells. J. Gen. Physiol. 47, 895–927 (1964).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sperelakis, N. and Mann, J.E., Jr. Evaluation of electric field changes in the cleft between excitable cells. J. Theor. Biol. 64, 71–96 (1977).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sperelakis, N. and Rubio, R. Ultrastructural ehanges produced by hypertonicity in cat cardiac muscle. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 3, 139–156 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sperelakis, N. and Shumaker, K. Phase-plane analysis of cardiac action potentials. J. Electrocardiology 1, 31–42 (1968).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sperelakis, N., Hoshiko, T., and Berne, R.M. Non-syncytial nature of cardiac muscle: membrane resistance of single cells. Am. J. Physiol. 198, 531–536 (1960).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Sperelakis, N., Marschall, R.A., and Mann, J.E. Propagation down a chain of excitable cells by electric field interactions in the junctional clefts: Effect of variation in extracellular resistances, including a “sucrose gap” simulation. (submitted for publication).Google Scholar
  36. Sperelakis, N., Mayer, G., and MacDonald, R. Velocity of propagation in vertebrate cardiac muscles as functions of tonicity and [K+]o. Amer. J. Physiol. 219, 952–963 (1970).Google Scholar
  37. Sperelakis, N., Rubio, R., and Redick, J. Sharp discontinuity in sarcomere lengths across intercalated disks of fibrillating cat hearts. J. Ultrastruct. Res. 30, 503–532 (1970).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sperelakis, N., Hoshiko, T., Keller, R.F., Jr. and Berne, R.M. Intracellular and external recordings from frog ventricular fibers during hypertonic perfusion. Am. J. Physiol. 198, 135–140 (1960).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Tarr, M. and Sperelakis, N. Weak electrotonic interaction between contiguous cardiac cells. Am. J. Physiol. 207, 691–700 (1964).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Tarr, M. and Sperelakis, N. Decreased intercellular resistance during spontaneous depolarization in myocardixim. Am. J. Physiol. 212, 1503–1511 (1967).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Weidmann, S. The diffusion of radiopotassium across intercalated disks of mammalian cardiac muscle. J. Physiol. 187, 323–342 (1966).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Weidmann, S. Electrical coupling between myocardial cells. Prog. Brain Res. 31, 275–281 (1969).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Woodbury, J.W. and Crill, W.E. The potential in the gap between two abutting cardiac muscle cells. Biophys. J. 10, 1076–1083 (1970).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yarom, Y. and Spira, M.E. Extracellular potassium ions mediate specific neuronal interaction. Science 216, 80–82 (1982).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nick Sperelakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiology DepartmentUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations