Simulation of Fibrillation in a Realistic Model of Canine Atrial Tissue

M. Wallman, M. Jirstrand, and I. Jacobson. The 9th Int. Conf. on Systems Biology, Gothenburg, Sweden, August 2008.


Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia and is associated with a five to six fold increase in the incidence of stroke. Computer models describing this phenomenon are useful to understand and predict how it is affected by ion-channel blockers. The objective of this ongoing project is to investigate the relationship between dynamic behavior at the tissue level and at the level of individual cells by means of in silico experiments.


A framework for modeling and simulation of electro-chemical activity in large scale cell networks has been developed. Within this framework, a geometric model of the canine atria has been constructed from ultra sound imaging data. Realistic fiber structure and cell type distribution have also been incorporated into the model. The simulation framework has been used to induce atrial fibrillation like behavior in cell networks and the effect of ion-channel modulation on this behavior has been studied.


The modeling approach taken in this work is indeed able to qualitatively reproduce the dynamic behavior associated with atrial fibrillation. Additionally, this behavior has been terminated by modulation of certain ion channel parameters, mimicking drug effects. This suggests that the particular mechanism of action investigated here is a viable approach for prevention and termination of atrial fibrillation.


Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Wallman, Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre
  • Mats Jirstrand, Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre
  • Ingemar Jacobson, Bioscience, AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal

Photo credits: Nic McPhee