US 20070239216 A9
According to a method and device for modulating intracellular calcium concentration in biological tissue, a stimulation probe is applied to the tissue, a non-excitatory stimulation pulse is generated, and the pulse is conveyed to the stimulation probe. In one embodiment concerning cardiac tissue, a stimulation probe is applied to a patient's heart, a signal is received from at least one sensor responsive to the patient's cardiac muscle activity, a non-excitatory stimulation pulse responsive to the signal is generated, and the pulse is conveyed to the stimulation probe.
1. A method of modulating intracellular calcium concentration in biological tissue, which comprises the steps of:
(a) applying a stimulation probe to biological tissue;
(b) generating a non-excitatory stimulation pulse; and
(c) conveying the pulse to the stimulation probe.
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5. A method of modulating intracellular calcium concentration in cardiac tissue, comprising:
(a) applying a stimulation probe comprising one or more stimulation electrodes to a subject's heart;
(b) receiving a signal from at least one sensor responsive to the subject's cardiac muscle activity;
(c) generating a non-excitatory stimulation pulse responsive to the signal; and
(d) conveying the pulse to at least one of the one or more electrodes.
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30. An apparatus for modulating intracellular calcium concentration in biological tissue, comprising:
a stimulation probe, and
an electrical control unit capable of generating a non-excitatory stimulation pulse and conveying said pulse to the stimulation probe to modulate intracellular calcium concentration.
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34. An apparatus for modulating intracellular calcium concentration in cardiac tissue, comprising:
a stimulation probe comprising one or more stimulation electrodes,
at least one sensor capable of generating a signal responsive to cardiac activity, and
an electrical control unit capable of generating a non-excitatory stimulation pulse responsive to the signal and conveying said pulse to at least one or the one or more stimulation electrodes to modulate intracellular calcium concentration.
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This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/157,511, filed Oct. 4, 1999, which is assigned to the assignee of the present patent application and is incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates generally to invasive devices and methods for treatment of the heart, including devices and methods for stimulation of the heart muscle. More particularly, this invention relates to control of cellular tissue, specifically the modulation of intracellular calcium concentration in cardiac muscle cells.
Cardiac insufficiency, characterized inter alia by a reduction in cardiac output, is a common, well-known and well-documented heart malfunction. It develops as a result of congenital defects or as an end-effect of many diseases. Cardiac output, i.e., the output of the heart per unit time, is the product of stroke volume and heart rate. Hence, variations in cardiac output can be produced by changes in cardiac rate or stroke volume. The stroke volume can be influenced, for example, by changing the strength of cardiac contraction, by changing the length of the cardiac muscle fibers, and by changing contractility of cardiac muscle independent of fiber length. The heart rate and rhythm influence the cardiac output both directly and indirectly, since changes in the rate and rhythm also affect myocardial contractility.
The human body normally regulates the cardiac output in response to body needs by changing the heart rate, as during physical exercise, and/or by adapting the stroke volume. Under pathological conditions, however, some of the normal regulatory mechanisms may be damaged. For example, heart tissue damaged due to-myocardial infarct typically cannot sustain normal pumping function, leading to a reduction in stroke volume, and hence of cardiac output. The body may react to such a reduction by increasing the heart rate, thus imposing long term strain on the heart muscles, leading in more severe cases to heart failure. There is thus a need for devices and treatments that can regulate the cardiac output, so as to compensate for the deficiencies in the normal regulation mechanisms.
In response to this need, modern cardiology has developed means to control various parameters associated with the heart's operation. Pharmaceuticals, for example, may be used to influence the conduction velocity, excitability, contractility and duration of the refractory period of the heart tissue. These pharmaceuticals are used to treat arrhythmia, enhance cardiac output and prevent fibrillation. Pharmaceuticals are generally limited in effectiveness in that they affect both healthy and diseased segments of the heart, usually, with a relatively low precision. They frequently also have unwanted side-effects.
A special kind of control can be achieved using implantable electronic devices, which provide excitatory electrical stimulation to the heart to control directly the heart rate and/or rhythm. For example, a pacemaker, an electronic device which is typically implanted in the heart to support the heart's electrical excitation system or to bypass a blocked portion of the conduction system. Another type of cardiac electronic device is a defibrillator, which senses fibrillation in the heart and applies a high voltage impulse to “reset” the heart. While electronic pacemakers can control the heart rate, however, they are limited in their capacity to enhance cardiac output, and they are known to reduce stroke volume in at least some instances. Defibrillators are useful in treating arrhythmia when it occurs (although they are painful to the patient and traumatic to the heart), but they provide no long-term amelioration of cardiac insufficiency.
Thus, none of the treatments known in the art allow effective, long-term regulation of cardiac output. PCT patent application PCT/IL97/00012, published as WO 97/25098, to Ben-Haim et al., which is incorporated herein by reference, describes methods for modifying the force of contraction of at least a portion a heart chamber by applying a non-excitatory electric field to the heart at a delay after electrical activation of the portion. The non-excitatory field is such as does not induce new activation potentials in cardiac muscle cells, but rather modifies the cells' response to the activation.
It is an object of some aspects of the present invention to provide improved methods and apparatus for controlling calcium concentration in biological tissue.
It is also an object of the present invention to provide methods and apparatus for modulating intracellular calcium concentration in cardiac tissue.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide methods and apparatus for modulating cardiac contractibility.
These and other objects of the invention will become more apparent form the discussion below.
In preferred embodiments of the present invention, a controller comprises a non-excitatory stimulation probe, including one or more non-excitatory stimulation electrodes, at least one sensor, preferably a sensing electrode; and electronic control circuitry, coupled to the stimulation probe and sensor. The stimulation electrodes and, preferably, the sensor are implemented in the heart. Alternatively, a sensing electrode may be placed on a body surface. The circuitry receives signals from the sensor, indicative of the heart's activity, and responsive thereto, drives the stimulation electrodes to provide non-excitatory electrical stimulation to the heart. A non-excitatory electrical field, current or voltage is passed through biological tissue, such as cardiac tissue, or in its proximity, resulting in either changing trans-membranal calcium ion fluxes or and/or intracellular stores content.
The term “non-excitatory electrical stimulation” (“IDS”) in the context of the present patent application and in the claims, refers to electrical pulses that do not induce new activation potentials to propagate in cardiac muscle cells. Rather, such pulses generally affect the response of the heart muscle to the action potentials, possibly by modulating cell contractility within selected segments of the cardiac muscle.
In any case, the effect of the device on intracellular calcium concentration is preferably regulated by changing the timing of the non-excitatory stimulation pulse relative to the heart's activity, preferably relative to the heart's local electrical activity or ECG signals received by the sensing electrode, and/or by changing other pulse characteristics, such as voltage, current, duration, polarity, waveform and frequency of the waveform. Preferably, the device senses the heart's sinus rhythm and applies and synchronizes the stimulation pulse relative thereto, preferably with a delay before the onset of the stimulation pulse. Additionally, the circuitry may analyze the signals, for example, to determine the QT interval, so as to adjust the stimulation pulses responsive thereto. Alternatively, when the heart's rhythm is irregular, due to ventricular premature beats (VPB's) or other cardiac arrhythmias, the device preferably identifies and analyzes the irregularity, using signal processing methods known in the art, and adjusts or withholds the stimulation pulse accordingly.
In some preferred embodiments of the present invention the control circuitry is contained within a console external to the body, and the electrodes are fed percutaneously into the subject's vascular system, for example, through the femoral artery, and are implanted in the heart. Such embodiments are useful particularly in short-term therapy to regulate and stabilize the subject's hemodynamics following an insult or trauma, for example, open heart surgery or MI.
In alternative preferred embodiments of the present invention, the electronic control circuitry is contained within a miniaturized, implantable case, similar to pacemaker cases known in the art
In some preferred embodiments of the present invention, the non-excitatory stimulation electrodes known in the art, such as pacing or electrophysiology electrodes. Preferably, the stimulation electrodes comprise large-area carbon electrodes or any other metal electrodes such as titanium nitrate, iridium oxide, most preferably vitreous carbon, or alternatively, pyro-carbon. Both types of carbon materials are known for their compatibility with heart tissue, in-vivo durability and excellent electrical properties, including high electrical conductivity. Thus, they allow a relatively high electrical current to be delivered to a relatively large segment of the heart tissue, without inducing electrical excitation.
In other preferred embodiments of the present invention, the non-excitatory stimulation electrodes are inserted into one of the blood vessels of the heart, preferably into the coronary sinus, or alternatively, into a coronary artery.
In another preferred embodiment of this type, different stimulation pulses are applied to respective ones or groups of the plurality of stimulation electrodes. Preferably, the different stimulation pulses are applied to the respective electrodes with a predetermined delay between the different pulses. The delay may be varied so as to achieve a desired hemodynamic effect, for example, to maximize the increase in stroke volume.
In still other such preferred embodiments, the positions of the plurality of stimulation electrodes and/or characteristics of the stimulation pulses applied thereto are optimized responsive to clinical characteristics of the heart. Preferably, before insertion of the electrodes, a map of the heart is produced, for example, an electrophysiological map, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,809, or a phase-dependent geometrical map, as described in PCT Patent Application PCT/IL97/00011, both of which are incorporated herein by reference. Preferably, the map includes information regarding the viability of the heart tissue, for example, based on local contractility or electrical activity. The non-excitatory stimulation electrodes are then positioned responsive to the map.
Preferably, applying the IDS signal includes conveying electrical energy to cells of the heart, such that action potentials are generally not generated in the cells responsive to the application of the non-excitatory signal.
Further preferably, the IDS signal is applied to improve hemodynamic performance of the heart. Preferably, the IDS signal is applied in order to increase contractility of the heart or, alternatively or additionally, to increase systolic pressure generated by the heart
In a preferred embodiment, applying the IDS signal includes sensing physiological variables and applying the signal responsive thereto. Preferably, sensing the variable includes detecting an electrical depolarization wave in the tissue. Alternatively, sensing the variable includes sensing a hemodynamic parameter. Preferably, applying the pacing pulses include controlling application of the pacing pulses responsive to the variable, wherein controlling the application of the pacing pulses includes making a transition from a first stimulation mode to a second stimulation mode responsive to the variable.
There is also provided, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, apparatus for stimulating cardiac tissue, including:
Preferably, the at least one of the electrodes to which the IDS signal is applied includes one of the electrodes to which the pacing pulses are applied.
Further preferably, at least one of the pacing sites is in the left ventricle, and the IDS signal is applied to an electrode in the left ventricle.
Preferably, the control unit applies the IDS signal between during a time period which begins between about 0 and 100 ms after the onset of a pacing pulse applied by the control unit, wherein the time period is set so as to substantially eliminate the possibility that a propagating action potential will be generated responsive to application of the IDS signal. Preferably, the time period begins between about 10 and 50 ms after the onset of the pacing pulse.
Preferably, the IDS signal is applied in order to increase contractility of the heart or, alternatively or additionally, in order to increase systolic pressure generated by the heart.
In a preferred embodiment, the apparatus includes a sensor, which senses a physiological variable, wherein the control unit receives an input from the sensor and applies the IDS signal responsive thereto. Preferably, the sensor detects an electrical depolarization wave in the tissue. Alternatively (or additionally, the sensor senses a hemodynamic: parameter or senses motion. Preferably, the control unit controls application of the pacing pulses responsive to the variable. Further preferably the control unit makes a transition from a first stimulation mode to a second stimulation mode responsive to the variable.
The present invention will be more fully understood form the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments thereof, taken together with the drawings, in which:
This invention is designed to modulate intracellular calcium concentration in a biological tissue using a non-excitatory electrical signal (IDS). In particular, the invention relates to the modulation of the intracellular calcium in cardiac muscle cells and thus the modulation of cardiac contractility. According to this invention a non-excitatory electrical field, current or voltage is passed through the tissue or in its proximity, resulting in either changing trans-membranal calcium ion fluxes or an intracellular calcium stores content. In another aspect of the invention the electrical field may interfere/enhance the affinity of intracellular calcium binding elements to calcium. In a further aspect the rise in intracellular calcium concentrations may initiate a cascade of events including, but not limited to, phosphorylation/dephosphorylation, gene transcription, and/or post translation modification.
Systems are disclosed which utilize the application of electrical current to a tissue, effecting tissue contractility by means of modulating intracellular calcium. At least one pair of electrodes is used for applying the signal. Electrode placement is adapted for achieving the maximum desired effect. The electrodes are attached to an either implantable or external device with programming capabilities. This device can be tested and calibrated non-invasively by external mechanisms. In addition, stimulation parameters can be adjusted by a similar programming mechanism.
The characteristics of the electrodes used for the stimulation are important. This invention utilizes both uni-polar and bi-polar electrode configurations.
A novel aspect of this method of modulating intracellular calcium in cells is the ability to adjust the timing and the amount of calcium increase/decrease using temporal electrical current rather than systemic pharmacological agents.
The accompanying figures show changes in intracellular calcium resulting from the application of the IDS signal together with experimental evidence on the effect of the IDS signal on the calcium handling in the cell.
The initial increase in the contractile force also supports the possible increase in the affinity of intracellular calcium binding elements that cause part of the increase in the contraction force.
All such variations, applications and subcombinations of elements are considered to be within scope of the present invention. It will thus be appreciated that the preferred embodiments described above are cited by way of example, and the full scope of the invention is limited only by the claims.