Comprehensive multilevel in vivo and in vitro analysis of heart rate fluctuations in mice by ECG telemetry and electrophysiology
The normal heartbeat slightly fluctuates around a mean value; this phenomenon is called physiological heart rate variability (HRV). It is well known that altered HRV is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death. The availability of genetic mouse models makes it possible to experimentally dissect the mechanism of pathological changes in HRV and its relation to sudden cardiac death. Here we provide a protocol that allows for a comprehensive multilevel analysis of heart rate (HR) fluctuations. The protocol comprises a set of techniques that include in vivo telemetry and in vitro electrophysiology of intact sinoatrial network preparations or isolated single sinoatrial node (SAN) cells. In vitro preparations can be completed within a few hours, with data acquisition within 1 d. In vivo telemetric ECG requires 1 h for surgery and several weeks for data acquisition and analysis. This protocol is of interest to researchers investigating cardiovascular physiology and the pathophysiology of sudden cardiac death.