Competing mechanisms of stress-assisted diffusivity and stretch-activated currents in cardiac electromechanics

Alessandro Loppini, Alessio Gizzi, Ricardo Ruiz-Baier, Christian Cherubini, Flavio H. Fenton, Simonetta Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We numerically investigate the role of mechanical stress in modifying the conductivity properties of cardiac tissue, and also assess the impact of these effects in the solutions generated by computational models for cardiac electromechanics. We follow the recent theoretical framework from Cherubini et al. (2017), proposed in the context of general reaction-diffusion-mechanics systems emerging from multiphysics continuum mechanics and finite elasticity. In the present study, the adapted models are compared against preliminary experimental data of pig right ventricle fluorescence optical mapping. These data contribute to the characterization of the observed inhomogeneity and anisotropy properties that result from mechanical deformation. Our novel approach simultaneously incorporates two mechanisms for mechano-electric feedback (MEF): stretch-activated currents (SAC) and stress-assisted diffusion (SAD); and we also identify their influence into the nonlinear spatiotemporal dynamics. It is found that (i) only specific combinations of the two MEF effects allow proper conduction velocity measurement; (ii) expected heterogeneities and anisotropies are obtained via the novel stress-assisted diffusion mechanisms; (iii) spiral wave meandering and drifting is highly mediated by the applied mechanical loading. We provide an analysis of the intrinsic structure of the nonlinear coupling mechanisms using computational tests conducted with finite element methods. In particular, we compare static and dynamic deformation regimes in the onset of cardiac arrhythmias and address other potential biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1714
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac electromechanics
  • Finite elasticity
  • Reaction-diffusion
  • Stress-assisted diffusion
  • Stretch-activated currents

Cite this