Biventricular pacing is an important modality to improve left ventricular (LV) synchronization and long-term function. However, the biological effects of this treatment are far from being elucidated and existing animal models are limited and demanding. Recently, we introduced an implanted device for double-site epicardial pacing in rats and echocardiographically demonstrated favorable effects of LV and biventricular (LV-based) pacing modes typically observed in humans. Here, this new animal model was further characterized. Electrodes were implanted either on the right atria (RA) and right ventricle (RV) or on the RV and LV. Following recovery, rats were either used for invasive hemodynamic measurements (pressure-volume analysis) or exposed to sustained RV vs. biventricular tachypacing for 3 days. RV pacing compromised, while LV-based pacing modes markedly enhanced cardiac performance. Changes in LV performance were associated with prominent compensatory changes in arterial resistance. Sustained RV tachypacing increased the electrocardiogram QTc interval by 7.9 ± 3.1 ms (n = 6, p < 0.05), dispersed refractoriness between the right and left pacing sites and induced important molecular changes mainly in the early-activated septal tissue. These effects were not observed during biventricular tachypacing (n = 6). Our results demonstrate that the rat is an attractive new model to study the biological consequences of LV dyssynchrony and resynchronization.
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