A comprehensive multiscale framework for simulating optogenetics in the heart

Patrick M. Boyle, John C. Williams, Christina M. Ambrosi, Emilia Entcheva, Natalia A. Trayanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optogenetics has emerged as an alternative method for electrical control of the heart, where illumination is used to elicit a bioelectric response in tissue modified to express photosensitive proteins (opsins). This technology promises to enable evocation of spatiotemporally precise responses in targeted cells or tissues, thus creating new possibilities for safe and effective therapeutic approaches to ameliorate cardiac function. Here we present a comprehensive framework for multiscale modelling of cardiac optogenetics, allowing both mechanistic examination of optical control and exploration of potential therapeutic applications. The framework incorporates accurate representations of opsin channel kinetics and delivery modes, spatial distribution of photosensitive cells, and tissue illumination constraints, making possible the prediction of emergent behaviour resulting from interactions at sub-organ scales. We apply this framework to explore how optogenetic delivery characteristics determine energy requirements for optical stimulation and to identify cardiac structures that are potential pacemaking targets with low optical excitation thresholds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2370
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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