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Optical pacing of the embryonic heart

Abstract

Light has been used to non-invasively alter the excitability of both neural and cardiac tissue1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Recently, pulsed laser light has been shown to be capable of eliciting action potentials in peripheral nerves and in cultured cardiomyocytes7,8,9,10. Here, for the first time, we demonstrate optical pacing of an intact heart in vivo. Pulsed 1.875-µm infrared laser light was used to lock the heart rate to the pulse frequency of the laser. A laser Doppler velocimetry signal was used to verify the pacing. At low radiant exposures, embryonic quail hearts were reliably paced in vivo without detectable damage to the tissue, indicating that optical pacing has great potential as a tool with which to study embryonic cardiac dynamics and development. In particular, optical pacing can be used to control the heart rate, thereby altering stresses and mechanically transduced signalling.

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Figure 1: Optical pacing set-up.
Figure 2: Pacing of the embryonic quail heart.
Figure 3: Threshold measurement.
Figure 4: TEM images after the optical pacing procedure.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (RO1-HL083048 (A.M.R.), RO1-HL095717 (A.M.R.), RO1-NS052407 (E.D.J.) and R44-NS051926 (E.D.J.). This investigation was conducted in a facility constructed with support from the Research Facilities Improvement Program grant no. C06 RR12463-01 from the National Center of Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. The authors appreciate the contributions of M. Hitomi in preparing embryos for TEM.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

M.W.J. conceived the original idea, performed and designed the experiments, analysed data and wrote the paper. A.R.D and S.G. performed and designed experiments and analysed data. Y.D. prepared and performed histology on the embryos and helped in preparing the embryos for TEM. H.J.C designed experiments and analysed data. H.F. supervised analysis and the creation of micrographs. M.W. supervised damage studies and embryo handling. E.D.J. and A.M.R. supervised optical pacing experiments. All authors helped to edit the paper. All authors except H.F. and Y.D. discussed the results and implications at all stages.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. M. Rollins.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Jenkins, M., Duke, A., Gu, S. et al. Optical pacing of the embryonic heart. Nature Photon 4, 623–626 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2010.166

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