Mechanism of atrioventricular nodal facilitation in the rabbit heart: Role of the distal AV node

Gerard J. Fahy, Igor Efimov, Yuanna Cheng, Gregory A. Kidwell, David Van Wagoner, Patrick J. Tchou, Todor Mazgalev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We investigated whether atrioventricular (AV) nodal facilitation is the result of distal AV nodal action potential shortening. Atrial and bundle of His (H) electrograms and microelectrode recordings from proximal and distal AV nodal cells were analyzed in eight superfused rabbit AV node preparations in response to two pacing protocols. In the facilitation protocol, an atrial extrastimulus (A3) was preceded by an atrial impulse (A2) introduced 300, 200, 150, or 125 ms after 30 basic beats (A1). The preexcitation protocol differed from the facilitation protocol by the addition of a premature His depolarization (h2) such that the H1-h2 interval was shorter than the H1-H2 interval. Conduction curves (A3-H3 vs. H2-A3, h2-A3, and A2-A3 intervals) were constructed. Facilitation was demonstrated in all preparations when H2- A3 was used (P = 0.02) but not in the A2-A3 format. Compared with facilitation at the same A1-A2 intervals, preexcitation, despite shortening the distal cellular action potential duration, resulted in longer A3-H3 delays (P = 0.002), shorter A2-A3 intervals, and depression of the proximal nodal cellular response. Thus facilitation does not result from altered distal AV nodal characteristics and instead is a manifestation of an uncontrolled pacing protocol-dependent modulation of proximal AV nodal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2815-H2825
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 41-6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Atrioventricular nodal physiology
  • Intrinsic atrioventricular nodal properties
  • Microelectrode recording
  • Pacing protocol
  • Preexcitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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