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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 465714, 12 pages
Review Article

Computational Approaches to Understanding the Role of Fibroblast-Myocyte Interactions in Cardiac Arrhythmogenesis

1Department of Physiology, Biophysics, and Systems Biology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA
2Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, New York, NY 10065, USA
3Greenberg Division of Cardiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA

Received 31 December 2014; Revised 10 April 2015; Accepted 29 April 2015

Academic Editor: Rodrigo W. dos Santos

Copyright © 2015 Tashalee R. Brown et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The adult heart is composed of a dense network of cardiomyocytes surrounded by nonmyocytes, the most abundant of which are cardiac fibroblasts. Several cardiac diseases, such as myocardial infarction or dilated cardiomyopathy, are associated with an increased density of fibroblasts, that is, fibrosis. Fibroblasts play a significant role in the development of electrical and mechanical dysfunction of the heart; however the underlying mechanisms are only partially understood. One widely studied mechanism suggests that fibroblasts produce excess extracellular matrix, resulting in collagenous septa. These collagenous septa slow propagation, cause zig-zag conduction paths, and decouple cardiomyocytes resulting in a substrate for arrhythmia. Another emerging mechanism suggests that fibroblasts promote arrhythmogenesis through direct electrical interactions with cardiomyocytes via gap junctions. Due to the challenges of investigating fibroblast-myocyte coupling in native cardiac tissue, computational modeling and in vitro experiments have facilitated the investigation into the mechanisms underlying fibroblast-mediated changes in cardiomyocyte action potential morphology, conduction velocity, spontaneous excitability, and vulnerability to reentry. In this paper, we summarize the major findings of the existing computational studies investigating the implications of fibroblast-myocyte interactions in the normal and diseased heart. We then present investigations from our group into the potential role of voltage-dependent gap junctions in fibroblast-myocyte interactions.