The atrioventricular node (AVN) is a complex structure that performs a variety of functions in the heart. The AVN is primarily an electrical gatekeeper between the atria and ventricles and introduces a delay between atrial and ventricular excitation, allowing for efficient ventricular filling. The AVN is composed of several compartments that safely transmit electrical excitation from the atria to the ventricles via the fast or slow pathways. There are many electrophysiological differences between these pathways, including conduction time and electrical refractoriness, that increase the predisposition of the atrioventricular junction to arrhythmias such as atrioventricular nodal re-entrant tachycardia. These varied electrophysiological characteristics of the fast and slow pathways stem from their unique structural and molecular composition (tissue and cellular geometry, ion channels and gap junctions). This review summarises the structural and molecular heterogeneities of the human AVN and how they result in electrophysiological variations and arrhythmias.
- Atrioventricular junction
- Dual-pathway electrophysiology
- Ion channels
- Optical mapping
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)