Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death in the developed countries. Identifying key cellular processes involved in generation of the electrical signal and in regulation of signal transduction pathways is essential for unraveling the underlying mechanisms of heart rhythm behavior. Computational cardiac models provide important insights into cardiovascular function and disease. Sensitivity analysis presents a key tool for exploring the large parameter space of such models, in order to determine the key factors determining and controlling the underlying physiological processes. We developed a new global sensitivity analysis tool which implements the Morris method, a global sensitivity screening algorithm, onto a Nimrod platform, which is a distributed resources software toolkit. The newly developed tool has been validated using the model of IP3-calcineurin signal transduction pathway model which has 30 parameters. The key driving factors of the IP3 transient behaviour have been calculated and confirmed to agree with previously published data. We next demonstrated the use of this method as an assessment tool for characterizing the structure of cardiac ionic models. In three latest human ventricular myocyte models, we examined the contribution of transmembrane currents to the shape of the electrical signal (i.e. on the action potential duration). The resulting profiles of the ionic current balance demonstrated the highly nonlinear nature of cardiac ionic models and identified key players in different models. Such profiling suggests new avenues for development of methodologies to predict drug action effects in cardiac cells.
"Since this seems to be the first application of FFD in computational neuroscience, we offer an introduction to the area. A full description may be found in Box et al. (2005); applications to computer modeling are described in Peachey et al. (2008a) and Sher et al. (2010). We consider a model with n parameters a, b, c, etc. and response, φ. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gamma oscillations are thought to be critical for a number of behavioral functions, they occur in many regions of the brain and through a variety of mechanisms. Fast repetitive bursting (FRB) neurons in layer 2 of the cortex are able to drive gamma oscillations over long periods of time. Even though the oscillation is driven by FRB neurons, strong feedback within the rest of the cortex must modulate properties of the oscillation such as frequency and power. We used a highly detailed model of the cortex to determine how a cohort of 33 parameters controlling synaptic drive might modulate gamma oscillation properties. We were interested in determining not just the effects of parameters individually, but we also wanted to reveal interactions between parameters beyond additive effects. To prevent a combinatorial explosion in parameter combinations that might need to be simulated, we used a fractional factorial design (FFD) that estimated the effects of individual parameters and two parameter interactions. This experiment required only 4096 model runs. We found that the largest effects on both gamma power and frequency came from a complex interaction between efficacy of synaptic connections from layer 2 inhibitory neurons to layer 2 excitatory neurons and the parameter for the reciprocal connection. As well as the effect of the individual parameters determining synaptic efficacy, there was an interaction between these parameters beyond the additive effects of the parameters alone. The magnitude of this effect was similar to that of the individual parameters, predicting that it is physiologically important in setting gamma oscillation properties.
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