Action potential prolongation and induction of abnormal automaticity by low quinidine concentrations in canine Purkinje fibers. Relationship to potassium and cycle length.


Marked QT prolongation with induction of polymorphous ventricular tachycardia ("Torsades de Pointes") is a well-described phenomenon during quinidine therapy, frequently occurring at low plasma quinidine concentrations, low serum potassium, and slow heart rates. We have therefore assessed the dose-electrophysiological effects of quinidine as a function of extracellular potassium and cycle length in canine Purkinje fibers, using standard microelectrode techniques. Quinidine (1 microM) prolonged action potential at 90% repolarization, while leaving phase zero upstroke slope (Vmax) unchanged at a cycle length 300-8000 msec; at 10 microM, Vmax depression became evident. Increases in the action potential at 90% repolarization were most marked at long cycle lengths and low extracellular potassium (in contrast to Vmax depression) and were partially reversed by tetrodotoxin (1 microM). The relationship between log of cycle length and action potential at 90% repolarization was linear (for cycle length 300-8000 msec) in the absence of quinidine. Quinidine increased the slope of this relationship in a concentration-related fashion, whereas increasing extracellular potassium shifted the curve rightward (without changing slope), regardless of the presence or absence of quinidine. Action potentials were also measured following pauses of 5-60 seconds. In the absence of quinidine, the action potential depolarization returned to its baseline value in a monoexponential fashion (time constant 36.0 +/- 4.9 sec, mean +/- SE, n = 10). In the presence of 1 microM quinidine, this return was better fit as a biexponential process (time constants 4.2 +/- 1.2 and 40.7 +/- 6.2 seconds, n = 14). At slow stimulation rates (cycle length greater than 4000 msec) in low extracellular potassium (2.7 mM), quinidine produced early afterdepolarizations in 7/14 (50%) of fibers at 1 microM and 14/18 (78%) at 10 microM. Early afterdepolarizations were eliminated by increasing stimulation rates, raising the extracellular the extracellular potassium concentration to 5 mM, or adding tetrodotoxin. These data suggest that prolongation by quinidine of action potentials at 90% repolarization is multifactorial, with both a "tonic" prolonging effect and a prominent frequency-dependent action potential shortening effect. At long cycle lengths and low extracellular potassium, low quinidine concentrations consistently produced early after-depolarizations. The parallels between this form of triggered activity and clinical arrhythmias induced by quinidine suggest that early afterdepolarizations may play a role in quinidine-induced Torsades de Pointes.

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@article{Roden1985ActionPP, title={Action potential prolongation and induction of abnormal automaticity by low quinidine concentrations in canine Purkinje fibers. Relationship to potassium and cycle length.}, author={Dan M. Roden and Brian Francis Hoffman}, journal={Circulation research}, year={1985}, volume={56 6}, pages={857-67} }