Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac disease of genuine clinical concern with high rates of morbidity, leading to major personal and National Health Service costs. Computer modelling of AF using biophysically detailed cellular models with realistic 3D anatomical geometry allows investigation of the underlying ionic mechanisms in far more detail than with experimental physiology. We have developed a 3D virtual human atrium that combines detailed cellular electrophysiology including ion channel kinetics and homeostasis of ionic concentrations with anatomical details. The segmented anatomical structure and the multi- variable nature of the system make the 3D simulations of AF computationally large and intensive.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) induced electrical remodelling of ionic channels shortens action potential duration and reduces atrial excitability. Experimental data of AF-induced electrical remodelling (AFER) from two previous studies on human atrial myocytes were incorporated into a human atrial cell computer model to simulate their effects on atrial electrical behaviour. The dynamical behaviors of excitation scroll waves in an anatomical 3D homogenous model of human atria were studied for control and AF conditions. Under control condition, scroll waves meandered in large area and became persistent when entrapped by anatomical obstacles. In this case, a mother rotor dominated atrial excitation. Action potentials from several sites behaved as if the atrium were paced rapidly. Under AF conditions, AFER increased the stability of re-entrant scroll waves by reducing meander. Scroll wave break up leads to wavelets underpinning sustained chronic AF. Our simulation results support the hypothesis that AF-induced electrical remodelling perpetuates and sustains AF.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac disease with high rates of morbidity, leading to major personal and NHS costs. Computer modeling of AF using a detailed cellular model with realistic 3D anatomical geometry allows investigation of the underlying ionic mechanisms in far more detail than in a physiology laboratory. We have developed a 3D virtual human atrium that combines detailed cellular electrophysiology, including ion channel kinetics and homeostasis of ionic concentrations, with anatomical detail. The segmented anatomical structure and multi-variable nature of the system makes the 3D simulations of AF large and computationally intensive. The computational demands are such that a full problem solving environment requires access to resources of High Performance Computing (HPC), High Performance Visualization (HPV), remote data repositories and a backend infrastructure. This is a classic example of eScience and Gridenabled computing. Initial work has been carried out using multiple processor machines with shared memory architectures. As spatial resolution of anatomical models increases, requirement of HPC resources is predicted to increase many-fold ( ~ 1 10 teraflops). Distributed computing is essential, both through massively parallel systems (a single supercomputer) and multiple parallel systems made accessible through the Grid.