AuthorsP. Li, G. T. Lines, M. Maleckar and A. Tveito
TitleMathematical Models of Cardiac Pacemaking Function
AfilliationCenter for Biomedical Computing (SFF), Cardiac Modeling, Scientific Computing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
JournalFrontiers in Physics
Date PublishedOctober 2013

Over the past half century, there has been intense and fruitful interaction between experimental and computational investigations of cardiac function. This has led, for example, to more profound understanding of cardiac excitation-contraction coupling; how it works, as well as how it fails. However, many lines of inquiry remain unresolved, among them the initiation of each heartbeat. The sinoatrial node, a cluster of specialized pacemaking cells in the right atrium of the heart, spontaneously generates an electro-chemical wave that spreads through the atria and the cardiac conduction system to the ventricles, initiating the contraction of cardiac muscle essential for pumping blood to the body. Despite the fundamental importance of this primary pacemaker, this process is still not fully understood, and ionic mechanisms underlying cardiac pacemaking function are currently under heated debate. Several mathematical models of sinoatrial node cell membrane electrophysiology have been constructed as based on different experimental data sets and hypotheses. As could be expected, these differing models offer diverse predictions about cardiac pacemaking activities. This paper aims to present the current state of debate over the origins of the pacemaking function of the sinoatrial node. Here, we will specifically review the state-of-the-art of cardiac pacemaker modeling, with a special emphasis on current discrepancies, limitations, and future challenges.