Muscarinic effects on action potential duration and its rate dependence in canine Purkinje fibers

Gabriella Malfatto, Antonio Zaza, Emilio Vanoli, Peter J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of the autonomic influence on action potential duration (APD) in the ventricles show direct effects of muscarinic stimulation on epicardial, but not endocardial, APD and conflicting results regarding direct vagal effects on the conduction system. In canine Purkinje fibers, we analyzed the action of the M2 agonist oxotremorine (OXO, 0.1 μM) on APD and on its cycle length (CL) dependence. Fibers were impaled with glass microelectrodes and superfused with Tyrode's solution. APD90 was measured after 3 minutes of drive at CL between 0.3 and 5 seconds. The best fit for the APD/CL relationship at steady state was a hyperbole: APD = APD(max)*CL/(CL+CL50), where APD(max) (APD at infinite CL) is a rate independent measure of APD, and CL50 (CL at which 50% APD(max) is reached) is an index of the rate dependence of APD. In five fibers, OXO reduced APD at all CL (P <0.05), APD(max) was also reduced to 377 ± 41 ms from 447 ± 34 ms (P <0.05), while CL50 was unchanged (405 ± 46 ms from 437 ± 28 ms). No effects of OXO on APD and APD(max) were seen in two fibers obtained from dogs pretreated with pertussis toxin (PTX). In conclusion, stimulation of M2 receptors in intact, and not PTX treated, Purkinje fibers affects APD but not its CL dependence. This may reflect the activation of a rate independent, background current through a GTP binding protein-linked pathway, such as, I(K,ACh). These data differ from those obtained in endocardial and epicardial muscle, stressing the regional differences in vagal modulation of ventricular electrophysiological properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2023-2026
Number of pages4
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number11 II
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • action potential duration
  • autonomic modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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