Normal interventricular differences in tissue architecture underlie right ventricular susceptibility to conduction abnormalities in a mouse model of Brugada syndrome

Allen Kelly, Simona Salerno, Adam Connolly, Martin Bishop, Flavien Charpentier, Tomas Stølen, Godfrey L. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
141 Downloads (Pure)


Aims Loss-of-function of the cardiac sodium channel Na V 1.5 is a common feature of Brugada syndrome. Arrhythmias arise preferentially from the right ventricle (RV) despite equivalent Na V 1.5 downregulation in the left ventricle (LV). The reasons for increased RV sensitivity to Na V 1.5 loss-of-function mutations remain unclear. Because ventricular electrical activation occurs predominantly in the transmural axis, we compare RV and LV transmural electrophysiology to determine the underlying cause of the asymmetrical conduction abnormalities in Scn5a haploinsufficient mice (Scn5a +/-). Methods and results Optical mapping and two-photon microscopy in isolated-perfused mouse hearts demonstrated equivalent depression of transmural conduction velocity (CV) in the LV and RV of Scn5a +/- vs. wild-type littermates. Only RV transmural conduction was further impaired when challenged with increased pacing frequencies. Epicardial dispersion of activation and beat-to-beat variation in activation time were increased only in the RV of Scn5a +/- hearts. Analysis of confocal and histological images revealed larger intramural clefts between cardiomyocyte layers in the RV vs. LV, independent of genotype. Acute sodium current inhibition in wild type hearts using tetrodotoxin reproduced beat-to-beat activation variability and frequency-dependent CV slowing in the RV only, with the LV unaffected. The influence of clefts on conduction was examined using a two-dimensional monodomain computational model. When peak sodium channel conductance was reduced to 50% of normal the presence of clefts between cardiomyocyte layers reproduced the activation variability and conduction phenotype observed experimentally. Conclusions Normal structural heterogeneities present in the RV are responsible for increased vulnerability to conduction slowing in the presence of reduced sodium channel function. Heterogeneous conduction slowing seen in the RV will predispose to functional block and the initiation of re-entrant ventricular arrhythmias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-736
Number of pages13
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number5
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Brugada syndrome
  • Multiphoton microscopy
  • Right ventricular structure
  • Sodium channel

Cite this