Introduction: Although life-saving, a strong internal defibrillation shock may temporarily or permanently damage the heart via disruption of cell membranes (electroporation). Spatial extent of electroporation in intact, normal, or infarcted hearts has not been investigated. In this study, shock-induced electroporation in intact rabbit hearts with and without chronic (>4 weeks) left ventricular myocardial infarction (MI) was characterized.
Methods and Results: A coil shock electrode was inserted in the right ventricle of Langendorff-perfused hearts. One truncated exponential monophasic shock (+300 V, 8 ms) was delivered by a 150 μF capacitor clinical defibrillator while the heart was perfused with membrane-impermeant dye propidium iodide (PI). The heart was sectioned transversely, and uptake of PI into ventricular myocardium through electropores was quantified. Histological evaluation was performed via Masson's trichrome staining. PI accumulation was minimal in the control (n = 3) and MI (n = 3) hearts without shock. Following shock delivery, (1) in control (n = 5) and MI (n = 5) hearts, electroporation mostly occurred near the shock electrode and was longitudinally distributed along the active region of the shock electrode; (2) in MI group, electroporation was significantly increased (P < 0.05) in the surviving anterior epicardial layers of the infarcted region; and (3) between the control and MI groups, the overall extent of electroporation was similar.
Conclusion: Shock-induced electroporation was spatially dependent on the location and dimension of the active region of the shock electrode. The overall extent of electroporation in the MI heart was comparable with the control heart, but the surviving anterior epicardial layers in the infarcted region were more susceptible to electroporation.