AuthorsK. H. Jæger, E. Ivanovic, J. P. Kucera and A. Tveito
TitleNano-scale solution of the Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) equations in a fraction of two neighboring cells reveals the magnitude of intercellular electrochemical waves
AfilliationScientific Computing
Project(s)Department of Computational Physiology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
PublisherPublic Library of Science

The basic building blocks of the electrophysiology of cardiomyocytes are ion channels integrated in the cell membranes. Close to the ion channels there are very strong electrical and chemical gradients. However, these gradients extend for only a few nano-meters and are therefore commonly ignored in mathematical models. The full complexity of the dynamics is modelled by the Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) equations but these equations must be solved using temporal and spatial scales of nano-seconds and nano-meters. Here we report solutions of the PNP equations in a fraction of two abuttal cells separated by a tiny extracellular space. We show that when only the potassium channels of the two cells are open, a stationary solution is reached with the well-known Debye layer close to the membranes. When the sodium channels of one of the cells are opened, a very strong and brief electrochemical wave emanates from the channels. If the extracellular space is sufficiently small and the number of sodium channels is sufficiently high, the wave extends all the way over to the neighboring cell and may therefore explain cardiac conduction even at very low levels of gap junctional coupling.

DOI10.1371/ journal.pcbi.1010895
Citation Key43164