Anisotropy is the property of directional dependence. In cardiac tissue, conduction velocity is anisotropic and its orientation is determined by myocyte direction. Cell shape and size, excitability, myocardial fibrosis, gap junction distribution and function are all considered to contribute to anisotropic conduction. In disease states, anisotropic conduction may be enhanced, and is implicated, in the genesis of pathological arrhythmias. The principal mechanism responsible for enhanced anisotropy in disease remains uncertain. Possible contributors include changes in cellular excitability, changes in gap junction distribution or function and cellular uncoupling through interstitial fibrosis. It has recently been demonstrated that myocyte orientation may be identified using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging in explanted hearts, and multisite pacing protocols have been proposed to estimate myocyte orientation and anisotropic conduction in vivo. These tools have the potential to contribute to the understanding of the role of myocyte disarray and anisotropic conduction in arrhythmic states.
- Anisotropic conduction
- Conduction velocity