Maturation of Cultured Neonatal Rat Ventricular Myocytes. Introduction: Cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVM) reestablish gap junctions as they form synchronously and spontaneously beating monolayers, thus providing a useful model for studying activation and repolarization.
Methods and Results: We used the multielectrode array data acquisition system with 60 unipolar electrodes to investigate the functional organization of cultured NRVM, by determining propagation and repolarization patterns. Activation maps were constructed from the local activation times at each electrode. During days 3 to 8 in culture, QRS amplitude and dV/dtmax increased with age. Concomitantly, with the culture maturation, QT interval (representing action potential duration) decreased, and T wave amplitude and slopes of the T wave ascending and descending limbs progressively increased. The changes in conduction velocity were different than those of the electrogram properties, slightly increasing during the first 3 to 5 days and gradually declining toward day 8 in culture.
Conclusion: Establishment of uniform activation patterns in spontaneously firing or driven myocytes in monolayer cultures is accompanied by organization of activation and repolarization whose evolution appears in concert with that of a mature connexin43 staining pattern. The experimental techniques developed in this study provide useful tools to investigate the complex relations among gap junctions, conduction velocity, and propagation patterns, as well as a means to learn how gap junctional remodeling under pathophysiologic conditions predisposes the myocardium to arrhythmias.