Brügmann, Tobias: Optogenetics in striated muscle: defibrillation of the heart and direct stimulation of skeletal muscles with light. - Bonn, 2019. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Tobias Brügmann}},
title = {Optogenetics in striated muscle: defibrillation of the heart and direct stimulation of skeletal muscles with light},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2019,
month = dec,

note = {Optogenetic depolarization of cells using the non-selective cation channel Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) enables precise control over the membrane potential of cells within a specific area of intact organs. Furthermore, the selective overexpression of light-gated proteins allows cell type-specific and pain-free stimulation which could be of great benefit for future scientific and therapeutic approaches.
In my thesis, I explored two potential applications of optogenetic methods in striated muscle: optogenetic defibrillation to terminate ventricular arrhythmia in intact mouse hearts and direct optogenetic stimulation of skeletal muscles. These new approaches could lead in the future to the development of optogenetic defibrillators and laryngeal pacemakers. Most experiments were performed with explanted hearts, isolated skeletal fibers and muscles or larynges from transgenic ChR2 expressing mice. To add translational perspectives, we also explored optogenetic defibrillation and intralaryngeal muscles stimulation after ChR2 gene transfer to wild type mice using adeno-associated virus (AAV).
Optogenetic defibrillation by epicardial illumination was highly efficient in terminating ventricular arrhythmia in transgenic hearts and the success rate of optogenetic defibrillation was depending on the pulse duration, the size of illumination and the light intensity. Importantly, we were also able to terminate ventricular arrhythmia in non-transgenic hearts even one year after AAV mediated gene transfer. The potential applicability of optogenetic defibrillation in the human heart was assessed in experimentally-calibrated computer simulations of a patient’s heart with infarct-related ventricular tachycardia. Because optogenetic stimulation would be in principle pain-free in patients, the proof for its feasibility could lay the foundation for the development of a new treatment option for patients at high risk for ventricular arrhythmia.
Direct optogenetic stimulation of skeletal muscle was first proven in isolated Flexor digitorum brevis fibers and in intact soleus muscles, which could both be stimulated using brief light pulses. The force of light-induced single twitches could be precisely controlled by varying the pulse duration and light intensity. Optogenetic stimulation was most efficient with 10 ms long pulses at a repetition rate of 40 Hz reaching ~84% of the maximum force generated by electrical stimulation with 100 Hz. Recurrent nerve paralysis is a severe complication of neck surgery, malignant processes or central neurological diseases and results in a fixed paramedian position of the vocal cords as well as life-threatening dyspnea in the case of bilateral paralysis. Current treatment options consist only of destructive surgery. Unfortunately the use of local electrical stimulation to restore laryngeal function faces severe technical limitations. Therefore I sought to explore direct optogenetic stimulation of intralaryngeal muscles in explanted larynges from ChR2 transgenic mice. Specific illumination of the individual intralaryngeal muscle groups led to an opening or closing of the vocal cords depending on the site of illumination. This proves the sufficient spatial resolution of light for selective stimulation of the intralaryngeal muscles groups. In addition, we were able to induce opening of the vocal cords in wild type mice after AAV-based gene transfer of ChR2 with light. Thus optogenetic stimulation could become a new treatment option for patients suffering from bilateral laryngeal paralysis.
In conclusion, optogenetic stimulation can overcome the severe limitations of electrical stimulation of the heart and skeletal muscles. The new technologies, I have developed and characterized in this thesis, allow for the design of completely new stimulation patterns to address open questions in muscle physiology. Furthermore, optogenetic stimulation of striated muscles could become a new treatment option for patients enabling selective and pain-free stimulation with few side effects.},

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