Degradation of T-Tubular Microdomains and Altered cAMP Compartmentation Lead to Emergence of Arrhythmogenic Triggers in Heart Failure Myocytes: An in silico Study

Alexandra D. Loucks, Thomas O’Hara, Natalia A. Trayanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heart failure (HF) is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although many patients suffering from HF die from sudden cardiac death caused by arrhythmias, the mechanism linking HF remodeling to an increased arrhythmogenic propensity remains incomplete. HF is typically characterized by a progressive loss of transverse tubule (T-tubule) domains, which leads to an altered distribution of L-type calcium channels (LTCCs). Microdomain degradation also causes the disruption of the β2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) and phosphodiesterase (PDE) signaling localization, normally confined to the dyadic space. The goal of this study was to analyze how these subcellular changes affect the function of LTCCs and lead to the emergence of ventricular cell-level triggers of arrhythmias. To accomplish this, we developed a novel computational model of a human ventricular HF myocyte in which LTCCs were divided into six different populations, based on their location and signaling environment they experience. To do so, we included T-tubular microdomain remodeling which led to a subset of LTCCs to be redistributed from the T-tubular to the surface membrane and allowed for different levels of phosphorylation of LTCCs by PKA, based on the presence of β2ARs and PDEs. The model was used to study the behavior of the LTCC current (ICaL) under basal and sympathetic stimulation and its effect on cellular action potential. Our results showed that channels redistributed from the T-tubular membrane to the bulk of the sarcolemma displayed an altered function in their new, non-native signaling domain. Incomplete calcium dependent inactivation, which resulted in a longer-lasting and larger-in-magnitude LTCC current, was observed when we decoupled LTCCs from ryanodine receptors and removed them from the dyadic space. The magnitude of the LTCC current, especially in the surface sarcolemma, was also increased via phosphorylation by the redistributed β2ARs and PDEs. These changes in LTCC current led to the development of early afterdepolarizations. Thus, our study shows that altered LTCC function is a potential cause for the emergence of cell-level triggers of arrhythmia, and that β2ARs and PDEs present useful therapeutic targets for treatment of HF and prevention of sudden cardiac death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1737
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Dec 4 2018


  • arrhythmia
  • computational modeling
  • early afterdepolarizations
  • heart failure
  • microdomain degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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