Early afterdepolarizations in cardiac myocytes: Beyond reduced repolarization reserve

Zhilin Qu, Lai Hua Xie, Riccardo Olcese, Hrayr S. Karagueuzian, Peng Sheng Chen, Alan Garfinkel, James N. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

77 Scopus citations


Early afterdepolarizations (EADs) are secondary voltage depolarizations during the repolarizing phase of the action potential, which can cause lethal cardiac arrhythmias. The occurrence of EADs requires a reduction in outward current and/or an increase in inward current, a condition called reduced repolarization reserve. However, this generalized condition is not sufficient for EAD genesis and does not explain the voltage oscillations manifesting as EADs. Here, we summarize recent progress that uses dynamical theory to build on and advance our understanding of EADs beyond the concept of repolarization reserve, towards the goal of developing a holistic and integrative view of EADs and their role in arrhythmogenesis. We first introduce concepts from nonlinear dynamics that are relevant to EADs, namely, Hopf bifurcation leading to oscillations and basin of attraction of an equilibrium or oscillatory state. We then present a theory of phase-2 EADs in nonlinear dynamics, which includes the formation of quasi-equilibrium states at the plateau voltage, their stabilities, and the bifurcations leading to and terminating the oscillations. This theory shows that the L-type calcium channel plays a unique role in causing the nonlinear dynamical behaviours necessary for EADs. We also summarize different mechanisms of phase-3 EADs. Based on the dynamical theory, we discuss the roles of each of the major ionic currents in the genesis of EADs, and potential therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-15
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013


  • Arrhythmias
  • Early afterdepolarizations
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Oscillation
  • Repolarization reserve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology

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    Qu, Z., Xie, L. H., Olcese, R., Karagueuzian, H. S., Chen, P. S., Garfinkel, A., & Weiss, J. N. (2013). Early afterdepolarizations in cardiac myocytes: Beyond reduced repolarization reserve. Cardiovascular research, 99(1), 6-15. https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvt104