The role of electroporation in defibrillation

Ayman Al-Khadra, Vladimir Nikolski, Igor R. Efimov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Electric shock is the only effective therapy against ventricular fibrillation. However, shocks are also known to cause electroporation of cell membranes. We sought to determine the impact of electroporation on ventricular conduction and defibrillation. We optically mapped electrical activity in coronary-perfused rabbit hearts during electric shocks (50 to 500 V). Electroporation was evident from transient depolarization, reduction of action potential amplitude, and upstroke dV/dt. Electroporation was voltage dependent and significantly more pronounced at the endocardium versus the epicardium, with thresholds of 229±81 versus 318±84 V, respectively (P=0.01, n=10), both being above the defibrillation threshold of 181.3±45.8 V. Epicardial electroporation was localized to a small area near the electrode, whereas endocardial electroporation was observed at the bundles and trabeculas throughout the entire endocardium. Higher-resolution imaging revealed that papillary muscles (n=10) were most affected. Electroporation and conduction block thresholds in papillary muscles were 281±64 V and 380±79 V, respectively. We observed no arrhythmia in association with electroporation. Further, preconditioning with high-energy shocks prevented reinduction of fibrillation by 50-V shocks, which were otherwise proarrhythmic. Endocardial bundles are the most susceptible to electroporation and the resulting conduction impairment. Electroporation is not associated with proarrhythmic effects and is associated with a reduction of vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-804
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 27 2000


  • Arrhythmia
  • Electric stimulation
  • Fibrillation
  • Imaging
  • Ventricle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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