Alternans of cardiac action potential duration (APD) is a well-known arrhythmogenic mechanism which results from dynamical instabilities. The propensity to alternans is classically investigated by examining APD restitution and by deriving APD restitution slopes as predictive markers. However, experiments have shown that such markers are not always accurate for the prediction of alternans. Using a mathematical ventricular cell model known to exhibit unstable dynamics of both membrane potential and Ca? cycling, we demonstrate that an accurate marker can be obtained by pacing at cycle lengths (CLs) varying randomly around a basic CL (BCL) and by evaluating the transfer function between the time series of CLs and APDs using an autoregressive-moving-average (ARMA) model. The first pole of this transfer function corresponds to the eigenvalue (?(alt)) of the dominant eigenmode of the cardiac system, which predicts that alternans occurs when ?(alt) ? -1. For different BCLs, control values of ?(alt) were obtained using eigenmode analysis and compared to the first pole of the transfer function estimated using ARMA model fitting in simulations of random pacing protocols. In all versions of the cell model, this pole provided an accurate estimation of ?(alt). Furthermore, during slow ramp decreases of BCL or simulated drug application, this approach predicted the onset of alternans by extrapolating the time course of the estimated ?(alt). In conclusion, stochastic pacing and ARMA model identification represents a novel approach to predict alternans without making any assumptions about its ionic mechanisms. It should therefore be applicable experimentally for any type of myocardial cell.
Lemay, M., Lange, E. D., & Kucera, J. P. (2012). Uncovering the Dynamics of Cardiac Systems using Stochastic Pacing and Frequency Domain Analyses. PLoS Computational Biology, 8(3), e1002399. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002399