In vivo and in vitro techniques were used to study the functional characteristics of subsidiary atrial pacemaker activity 4 to 11 months after surgical excision of the sinoatrial node region of the dog heart. Characteristics of this long-term subsidiary atrial pacemaker activity were compared with those of sinoatrial node and shortterm subsidiary atrial pacemaker activities. Extracellular bipolar electrodes were used to estimate the site of earliest activation and monitor spontaneous rate. Under both in vivo and in vitro conditions, long-term pacemaker activity was located in the same region of the inferior right atrium as was short-term pacemaker activity. Under in vitro conditions, long-term activity was characterized by a reduced sensitivity to acetylcholine and overdrive pacing and by a lack of dependence on beta-adrenergic stimulation compared with short-term activity. Furthermore, long-term pacemaker activity was more sensitive to acetylcholine and less sensitive to norepinephrine (>10−7M) compared with sinoatrial node activity. It is concluded that the subsidiary atrial pacemakers that emerge soon after removal of the sinoatrial node are the same as those pacemakers that ultimately assume long-term control of the heart. In addition, after subsidiary atrial pacemakers assume dominant pacemaker function, their dependence on norepinephrine and their response to acetylcholine and overdrive pacing are reduced. These changes facilitate a more stable regulation of atrial pacemaker rhythm and, thereby, make subsidiary atrial pacemaker function more like that of the sinoatrial node.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine