Acta Biotheoretica 40 (2-3):177-193 (1992)
In the present study, we have demonstrated hysteresis phenomena in the excitability of single, enzymatically dissociated guinea pig ventricular myocytes. Membrane potentials were recorded with patch pipettes in the whole-cell current clamp configuration. Repetitive stimulation with depolarizing current pulses of constant cycle length and duration but varying strength led to predictable excitation (1:l) and non-excitation (1:0) patterns depending on current strength. In addition, transition between patterns depended on the direction of current intensity change and stable hysteresis loops were obtained in stimulus:response pattern vs. current intensity plots in 14 cells. Increase of pulse duration and decrease of stimulation rate contributed to a reduction in hysteresis loop areas. Changes in amplitude and shape of the subthreshold responses during the transitions from one stable pattern to the other, suggested that activity led to an increase in membrane resistance, particularly in the voltage domain between resting potential, and threshold. Therefore, we modelled the dynamic behaviour of the single cells as a function of diastolic membrane resistance, using previously published analytical solutions. Numerical iteration of the analytical model equations closely reproduced the experimental hysteresis loops in both qualitative and quantitative ways. In particular, the effect of stimulation frequency on the model was similar to the experimental findings. The overall study suggests that the excitability pattern of guinea pig ventricular myocytes accounts for hysteresis and bistabilities when current intensity is allowed to fluctuate around threshold levels.
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