Models of cardiac mechanics are increasingly used to investigate cardiac physiology. These models are characterized by a high level of complexity, including the particular anisotropic material properties of biological tissue and the actively contracting material. A large number of independent simulation codes have been developed, but a consistent way of verifying the accuracy and replicability of simulations is lacking. To aid in the verification of current and future cardiac mechanics solvers, this study provides three benchmark problems for cardiac mechanics. These benchmark problems test the ability to accurately simulate pressure-type forces that depend on the deformed objects geometry, anisotropic and spatially varying material properties similar to those seen in the left ventricle and active contractile forces. The benchmark was solved by 11 different groups to generate consensus solutions, with typical differences in higher-resolution solutions at approximately 0.5%, and consistent results between linear, quadratic and cubic finite elements as well as different approaches to simulating incompressible materials. Online tools and solutions are made available to allow these tests to be effectively used in verification of future cardiac mechanics software.
Computational models of cardiac electrophysiology provided insights into arrhythmogenesis and paved the way toward tailored therapies in the last years. To fully leverage in silico models in future research, these models need to be adapted to reflect pathologies, genetic alterations, or pharmacological effects, however. A common approach is to leave the structure of established models unaltered and estimate the values of a set of parameters. Today's high-throughput patch clamp data acquisition methods require robust, unsupervised algorithms that estimate parameters both accurately and reliably. In this work, two classes of optimization approaches are evaluated: gradient-based trust-region-reflective and derivative-free particle swarm algorithms. Using synthetic input data and different ion current formulations from the Courtemanche et al. electrophysiological model of human atrial myocytes, we show that neither of the two schemes alone succeeds to meet all requirements. Sequential combination of the two algorithms did improve the performance to some extent but not satisfactorily. Thus, we propose a novel hybrid approach coupling the two algorithms in each iteration. This hybrid approach yielded very accurate estimates with minimal dependency on the initial guess using synthetic input data for which a ground truth parameter set exists. When applied to measured data, the hybrid approach yielded the best fit, again with minimal variation. Using the proposed algorithm, a single run is sufficient to estimate the parameters. The degree of superiority over the other investigated algorithms in terms of accuracy and robustness depended on the type of current. In contrast to the non-hybrid approaches, the proposed method proved to be optimal for data of arbitrary signal to noise ratio. The hybrid algorithm proposed in this work provides an important tool to integrate experimental data into computational models both accurately and robustly allowing to assess the often non-intuitive consequences of ion channel-level changes on higher levels of integration.
Generally, models of cardiac electrophysiology describe physiologic conditions in detail. However, other conditions, such as drug interactions or mutations of ion channels are of interest for research. Therefore, the simulated ion currents have to be fitted to measured voltage or patch clamp data. In this work, three different methods for the model parametrization were compared: one based on Powells algorithm implemented in a modular C++ framework and two optimization techniques realized in Matlab. The latter two approaches differed in solving the ordinary differential equations describing the channel gating. They can either be approximated numerically or solved analytically, since the transmembrane voltage is a piecewise constant function during the applied clamp protocol. All three methods were compared regarding computing time and quality of the fit using least squares. The modular C++ framework was slower than the numerical Matlab method, which took longer than the analytical one. The quality of the fit was similar for almost all analyzed methods. Therefore, the analytical method grants a fast and reliable solution for the calibration of ion current models for applications with constant membrane voltage, as e.g. in case of voltage or patch clamp data.