Panoramic Endocardial Optical Mapping Demonstrates Serial Rotors Acceleration and Increasing Complexity of Activity During Onset of Cholinergic Atrial Fibrillation

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Background Activation during onset of atrial fibrillation is poorly understood. We aimed at developing a panoramic optical mapping system for the atria and test the hypothesis that sequential rotors underlie acceleration of atrial fibrillation during onset. Methods and Results Five sheep hearts were Langendorff perfused in the presence of 0.25 µmol/L carbachol. Novel optical system recorded activations simultaneously from the entire left and right atrial endocardial surfaces. Twenty sustained (>40 s) atrial fibrillation episodes were induced by a train and premature stimuli protocol. Movies obtained immediately (Initiation stage) and 30 s (Early Stabilization stage) after premature stimulus were analyzed. Serial rotor formation was observed in all sustained inductions and none in nonsustained inductions. In sustained episodes maximal dominant frequency increased from (mean±SD) 11.5±1.74 Hz during Initiation to 14.79±1.30 Hz at Early Stabilization (<0.0001) and stabilized thereafter. At rotor sites, mean cycle length (CL) during 10 prerotor activations increased every cycle by 0.53% (=0.0303) during Initiation and 0.34% (=0.0003) during Early Stabilization. In contrast, CLs at rotor sites showed abrupt decreases after the rotors appearances by a mean of 9.65% (<0.0001) during both stages. At Initiation, atria-wide accelerations and decelerations during rotors showed a net acceleration result whereby post-rotors atria-wide minimal CL (CLmin) were 95.5±6.8% of the prerotor CLmin (=0.0042). In contrast, during Early Stabilization, there was no net acceleration in CLmin during accelerating rotors (prerotor=84.9±11.0% versus postrotor=85.8±10.8% of Initiation, =0.4029). Levels of rotor drift distance and velocity correlated with atria-wide acceleration. Nonrotor phase singularity points did not accelerate atria-wide activation but multiplied during Initiation until Early Stabilization. Increasing number of singularity points, indicating increased complexity, correlated with atria-wide CLmin reduction (<0.0001). Conclusions Novel panoramic optical mapping of the atria demonstrates shortening CL at rotor sites during cholinergic atrial fibrillation onset. Atrial fibrillation acceleration toward Early Stabilization correlates with the net result of atria-wide accelerations during drifting rotors activity.

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Journal of the American Heart Association