Guidelines for assessment of cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmias in small animals


Crystal M. Ripplinger, Department of Pharmacology, UC Davis School of Medicine, Davis, CA, United States.
Alexey V. Glukhov, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, United States.
Matthew W. Kay, Department of Biomedical Engineering, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, United States.
Bastiaan J. Boukens, Department Physiology, University Maastricht, Maastricht University Medical Center & Department of Medical Biology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Medical Center, Netherlands.
Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine; Northern California Healthcare System, Davis, CA, United States.
Brian P. Delisle, Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, United States.
Larissa Fabritz, University Center of Cardiovascular Science, University Heart and Vascular Center, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf with DZHK Hamburg/Kiel/Luebeck; Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Thomas J. Hund, Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, Departments of Internal Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States.
Björn C. Knollmann, Vanderbilt Center for Arrhythmia Research and Therapeutics, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, United States.
Na Li, Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, United States.
Katherine T. Murray, Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, United States.
Steven Poelzing, Virginia Tech Carilon School of Medicine, Center for Heart and Reparative Medicine Research, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech; Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Roanke, VA, United States.
T Alexander Quinn, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Dalhousie University; School of Biomedical Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Carol Ann Remme, Amsterdam UMC location University of Amsterdam, Department of Experimental Cardiology, Heart Centre. Amsterdam Cardiovascular Sciences, Heart failure & Arrhythmias, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Stacey L. Rentschler, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, United States.
Robert A. Rose, Department of Cardiac Sciences, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Libin Cardiovascular Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Nikki G. Posnack, Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children's National Hospital, Washington, DC, USA. Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University School46 of Medicine, Washington, D.C., DC, United States.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology




ECG; arrhythmia; cardiac electrophysiology; guidelines; small animals


Cardiac arrhythmias are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although recent advances in cell-based models, including human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CM), are contributing to our understanding of electrophysiology and arrhythmia mechanisms, pre-clinical animal studies of cardiovascular disease remain a mainstay. Over the past several decades, animal models of cardiovascular disease have advanced our understanding of pathological remodeling, arrhythmia mechanisms, drug effects, and have led to major improvements in pacing and defibrillation therapies. There exist a variety of methodological approaches for assessment of cardiac electrophysiology, and a plethora of parameters may be assessed with each approach. This Guidelines article will provide an overview of the strengths and limitations of several common techniques used to assess electrophysiology and arrhythmia mechanisms at the whole animal, whole heart, and tissue level, with a focus on small animal models. We also define key electrophysiological parameters that should be assessed, along with their physiological underpinnings, and the best methods with which to assess these parameters.