Mathematical modelling of active contraction in isolated cardiomyocytes

Ricardo Ruiz-Baier, Alessio Gizzi, Simone Rossi, Christian Cherubini, Aymen Laadhari, Simonetta Filippi, Alfio Quarteroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We investigate the interaction of intracellular calcium spatio-temporal variations with the self-sustained contractions in cardiac myocytes. A consistent mathematical model is presented considering a hyperelastic description of the passive mechanical properties of the cell, combined with an active-strain framework to explain the active shortening of myocytes and its coupling with cytosolic and sarcoplasmic calcium dynamics. A finite element method based on a Taylor-Hood discretization is employed to approximate the nonlinear elasticity equations, whereas the calcium concentration and mechanical activation variables are discretized by piecewise linear finite elements. Several numerical tests illustrate the ability of the model in predicting key experimentally established characteristics including: (i) calcium propagation patterns and contractility, (ii) the influence of boundary conditions and cell shape on the onset of structural and active anisotropy and (iii) the high localized stress distributions at the focal adhesions. Besides, they also highlight the potential of the method in elucidating some important subcellular mechanisms affecting, e.g. cardiac repolarization.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)259-283
Number of pages25
JournalMathematical Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014


  • Active-strain contraction
  • Calcium propagation
  • Cardiomyocyte modelling
  • Coupled multiphysics
  • Finite element formulation
  • Nonlinear elasticity


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