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Thin living tissue slices have recently emerged as a new tissue model for cardiac electrophysiological research. Slices can be produced from human cardiac tissue, in addition to small and large mammalian hearts, representing a powerful in vitro model system for preclinical and translational heart research. In the present protocol, we describe a detailed mouse heart transverse slicing and optical imaging methodology. The use of this technology for high-throughput optical imaging allows study of electrophysiology of murine hearts in an organotypic pseudo two-dimensional model. The slices are cut at right angles to the long axis of the heart, permitting robust interrogation of transmembrane potential (Vm) and calcium transients (CaT) throughout the entire heart with exceptional regional precision. This approach enables the use of a series of slices prepared from the ventricles to measure Vm and CaT with high temporal and spatial resolution, allowing (i) comparison of successive slices which form a stack representing the original geometry of the heart; (ii) profiling of transmural and regional gradients in Vm and CaT in the ventricle; (iii) characterization of transmural and regional profiles of action potential and CaT alternans under stress (e.g., high frequency pacing or β-adrenergic stimulation) or pathological conditions (e.g., hypertrophy). Thus, the protocol described here provides a powerful platform for innovative research on electrical and calcium handling heterogeneity within the heart. It can be also combined with optogenetic technology to carry out optical stimulation; aiding studies of cellular Vm and CaT in a cell type specific manner.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Physiol

Publication Date





Ca2+ transients, membrane potentials, murine heart, optical mapping, transverse cardiac slice