Animal models have become a popular platform for the investigation of the molecular and systemic mechanisms of pathological cardiovascular physiology. Chronic pacing studies with implantable pacemakers in large animals have led to useful models of heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Unfortunately, molecular and genetic studies in these large animal models are often prohibitively expensive or not available. Conversely, the mouse is an excellent species for studying molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular disease through genetic engineering. However, the large size of available pacemakers does not lend itself to chronic pacing in mice. Here, we present the design for a novel, fully implantable wireless-powered pacemaker for mice capable of long-term (>30 days) pacing. This design is compared to a traditional battery-powered pacemaker to demonstrate critical advantages achieved through wireless inductive power transfer and control. Battery-powered and wireless-powered pacemakers were fabricated from standard electronic components in our laboratory. Mice (n = 24) were implanted with endocardial, battery-powered devices (n = 14) and epicardial, wireless-powered devices (n = 10). Wireless-powered devices were associated with reduced implant mortality and more reliable device function compared to battery-powered devices. Eight of 14 (57.1%) mice implanted with battery-powered pacemakers died following device implantation compared to 1 of 10 (10%) mice implanted with wireless-powered pacemakers. Moreover, device function was achieved for 30 days with the wireless-powered device compared to 6 days with the battery-powered device. The wireless-powered pacemaker system presented herein will allow electrophysiology studies in numerous genetically engineered mouse models as well as rapid pacing-induced heart failure and atrial arrhythmia in mice.
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