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Optogenetics for suppression of cardiac electrical activity in human and rat cardiomyocyte cultures
Author(s): Udi Nussinovitch; Lior Gepstein
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Paper Abstract

Optogenetics has revolutionized neuroscience by enabling precise control of neural excitation. The development of similar optogenetics strategies in the heart is just emerging and mainly focused on pacing with light activation of channelrhodopsin-2. Here, we aimed to develop an optogenetic approach to suppress local cardiac electrical activity by using engineered cell-grafts (HEK293-cells) transfected to express the light-sensitive hyperpolarizing proton-pump archaerhodopsin-3 (Arch3). To evaluate the ability of the engineered cells to couple and modulate the electrical activity of cardiomyocytes, we co-cultured the Arch3-HEK293 cells with neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs) or human embryonic stem cells derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs). The co-cultures’ conduction and chronotropic properties were evaluated prior, during, and following application of focused monochromatic light (590 nm) using a multielectrode array mapping system. Application of focused illumination completely silenced electrical activity at the illuminated area in all NRCM co-cultures, leading to development of localized functional conduction blocks. Similarly, illumination significantly slowed spontaneous beating-rate in the hESCs-CMs co-cultures (from 86±9 to 28±4  beats/min, p<0.001). Interestingly, a transient acceleration in beating-rate was noted immediately postillumination. In conclusion, a combined gene and cell therapy approach, using light-sensitive hyperpolarizing proteins, could be used to modulate conduction and automaticity in cardiomyocyte cultures, opening the way for future optogenetic treatments for cardiac tachyarrhythmias.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 June 2015
PDF: 12 pages
2(3) 031204 doi: 10.1117/1.NPh.2.3.031204
Published in: Neurophotonics Volume 2, Issue 3
Show Author Affiliations
Udi Nussinovitch, Rambam Medical Ctr. (Israel)
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
Lior Gepstein, Rambam Medical Ctr. (Israel)
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)

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