Differential electrophysiologic properties of decremental retrograde pathways in long RP' tachycardia
Heart Conduction System
Long RP' supraventricular tachycardias (SVT) often demonstrate both slow and decremental conduction properties in the retrograde pathway of the reentrant circuit. The electrophysiologic properties of these pathways are poorly understood. We studied 10 patients with long RP' SVT (RP'/RR, 0.52 to 0.71); five had the unusual form of atrioventricular nodal reentry (fast-slow) and five patients had accessory AV pathways with slow, decremental retrograde conduction properties. During SVT, the effects of intravenous adenosine (37.5 to 150 micrograms/kg), which increases potassium current (iK) in supraventricular tissue and hyperpolarizes membrane potential toward Ek (-90 mV), and the response to slow-inward channel blockade with verapamil (0.10 to 0.20 mg/kg iv) were evaluated. Adenosine and verapamil has similar effects in the presence of fast-slow AV nodal reentry since both agents terminated SVT by producing block in the retrograde slow AV nodal pathway. In contrast, adenosine and verapamil had differential effects on retrograde conduction in decremental accessory pathways. Adenosine terminated all episodes of SVT in the retrograde decremental pathway, whereas verapamil had a direct effect on this tissue in only two of five patients. Decremental retrograde accessory pathways can therefore demonstrate at least two types of electrophysiologic responses. Pathways that respond only to adenosine-induced hyperpolarizing K+ current likely comprise depressed fast-Na+ channel tissue, i.e., partially depolarized (greater than -60 to -70 mV) atrial tissue. In contrast, decremental accessory pathways that respond to both modulation of the slow-inward calcium current and K+ conductance have pharmacologic properties similar to those of the AV node and may represent more completely depolarized atrial fibers with resting membrane potentials of -60 mV or less.