The application of brief high voltage electrical pulses to tissue can lead to an irreversible or reversible electroporation effect in a cell-specific manner. In the management of ventricular arrhythmias, the ability to target different tissue types, specifically cardiac conduction tissue (His-Purkinje System) vs. cardiac myocardium would be advantageous. We hypothesize that pulsed electric fields (PEFs) can be applied safely to the beating heart through a catheter-based approach, and we tested whether the superficial Purkinje cells can be targeted with PEFs without injury to underlying myocardial tissue.
In an acute (n = 5) and chronic canine model (n = 6), detailed electroanatomical mapping of the left ventricle identified electrical signals from myocardial and overlying Purkinje tissue. Electroporation was effected via percutaneous catheter-based Intracardiac bipolar current delivery in the anesthetized animal. Repeat Intracardiac electrical mapping of the heart was performed at acute and chronic time points; followed by histological analysis to assess effects.
PEF demonstrated an acute dose-dependent functional effect on Purkinje, with titration of pulse duration and/or voltage associated with successful acute Purkinje damage. Electrical conduction in the insulated bundle of His (n = 2) and anterior fascicle bundle (n = 2), was not affected. At 30 days repeat cardiac mapping demonstrated resilient, normal electrical conduction throughout the targeted area with no significant change in myocardial amplitude (pre 5.9 ± 1.8 mV, 30 days 5.4 ± 1.2 mV, p = 0.92). Histopathological analysis confirmed acute Purkinje fiber targeting, with chronic studies showing normal Purkinje fibers, with minimal subendocardial myocardial fibrosis.
PEF provides a novel, safe method for non-thermal acute modulation of the Purkinje fibers without significant injury to the underlying myocardium. Future optimization of this energy delivery is required to optimize conditions so that selective electroporation can be utilized in humans the treatment of cardiac disease.