Genetic engineering and implantable bioelectronics have transformed investigations of cardiovascular physiology and disease. However, the two approaches have been difficult to combine in the same species: genetic engineering is applied primarily in rodents, and implantable devices generally require larger animal models. We recently developed several miniature cardiac bioelectronic devices suitable for mice and rats to enable the advantages of molecular tools and implantable devices to be combined. Successful implementation of these device-enabled studies requires microsurgery approaches that reliably interface bioelectronics to the beating heart with minimal disruption to native physiology. Here we describe how to perform an open thoracic surgical technique for epicardial implantation of wireless cardiac pacemakers in adult rats that has lower mortality than transvenous implantation approaches. In addition, we provide the methodology for a full biocompatibility assessment of the physiological response to the implanted device. The surgical implantation procedure takes ~40 min for operators experienced in microsurgery to complete, and six to eight surgeries can be completed in 1 d. Implanted pacemakers provide programmed electrical stimulation for over 1 month. This protocol has broad applications to harness implantable bioelectronics to enable fully conscious in vivo studies of cardiovascular physiology in transgenic rodent disease models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)