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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Atrioventricular junctional tissue. Discrepancy between histological and electrophysiological characteristics.

BACKGROUND: Previous work has demonstrated that cells with AV nodal-type action potentials are not confined to Koch's triangle but may extend along the AV orifices. The aim of this study was to examine the histological and electrophysiological characteristics of this tissue. METHODS AND RESULTS: Studies were performed in isolated, blood-perfused dog and pig hearts. Microelectrode recordings revealed cells with nodal-type action potentials around the tricuspid and mitral valve rings. These cells were found within 1 to 2 mm of the valve annuli. A zone of cells with intermediate action potentials, approximately 1 cm wide, separated cells with nodal-type action potentials from cells with atrial-type action potentials in the body of the atria. In cells with nodal-type action potentials, adenosine caused a reduction in action potential amplitude (49 +/- 2 versus 33 +/- 2 mV, mean +/- SE; P < .001), upstroke velocity (2.5 +/- 0.2 versus 2.0 +/- 0.2 V/s, P < .05), and duration (150 +/- 4 versus 96 +/- 8 ms, P < .001). The light microscopic appearance of AV junctional cells was similar to that of myocytes in the body of the atrium. A polyclonal antibody raised against connexin-43 bound to atrial and ventricular tissue but not to the AV junctional tissue or AV nodal region. The absence of connexin-43 correlated with the sites of cells with nodal-like action potentials. With pacing techniques, the AV junctional tissue in the region of the posterior AV nodal approaches could be electrically dissociated from atrial, AV nodal, and ventricular tissue. AV nodal echoes were induced with ventricular pacing in three dog hearts. In each case, retrograde conduction was through the slow pathway, and anterograde conduction was through the fast pathway. During echoes, activation of AV junctional cells preceded atrial activation during retrograde slow pathway conduction, but these cells were not activated during anterograde fast pathway conduction. CONCLUSIONS: AV junctional cells around both annuli are histologically similar to atrial cells but resemble nodal cells in their cellular electrophysiology, response to adenosine, and lack of connexin-43. The light microscopic appearance of AV junctional cells is a poor guide to their action potential characteristics. The AV junctional cells in the posterior AV nodal approaches appear to participate in slow pathway conduction. These cells may be the substrate of the slow "AV nodal" pathway.[1]


  1. Atrioventricular junctional tissue. Discrepancy between histological and electrophysiological characteristics. McGuire, M.A., de Bakker, J.M., Vermeulen, J.T., Moorman, A.F., Loh, P., Thibault, B., Vermeulen, J.L., Becker, A.E., Janse, M.J. Circulation (1996) [Pubmed]
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