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Electrophysiology Research
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Electrophysiology Basic Research

Mission Statement

Under the direction of Dr. Jie Cheng, the research goals of the Electrophysiology (EP) Research Lab are: (1) to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of various arrhythmias; (2) to develop new lines of inquiry in arrhythmia research using novel technology such as optical mapping systems; and (3) to develop new therapeutic strategies to treat various arrhythmias.


  • Non-cholinergic vagal effects on atrial electrophysiological properties and vulnerability to atrial fibrillation
  • Role of cytoskeletal proteins in arrhythmias
  • Use of stem cell therapy to restore electrical activity in hibernating heart
  • Proarrhythmic effects of B-type natriuretic peptide on failing heart
  • Genetic screening in LQTS and Brugada Syndrome

The following achievements represent the current research in the EP Basic Research Laboratory:  

  • Defined that the action of a novel peptide (small protein), vasoactive intestine polypeptide (VIP), is vagally mediated and leads to the development of atrial fibrillation in animal models.
  • Demonstrated the proarrhythmic effects of a peptide, brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), which can be detected in the blood of a patient population and confirmed the effects of BNP in an animal model.

Department Staff

  • Jie Cheng, MD, PhD, FACC – Director 
  • Yutao Xi, MD, PhD – Research Associate
  • Junping Sun, MD, PhD – Research Fellow
  • Shahrzad Abbasi, MS – Senior Research Assistant

In the news . . .

First in Texas to offer procedure to eliminate a major source of blood clots

Dr. William E. “Billy” Cohn and Dr. Jie Cheng showing the Lariat device.THI is the first in Texas and one of only a few in the nation to treat patients with a new catheter-based procedure that uses sutures to tie off the left atrial appendage (LAA), known to be a major source of  blood clots that may lead to stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. 
Dr. "Billy" Cohn (l) shown with Dr. Jie Cheng and the Lariat device


Publications (2009-2012)

Peer Reviewed Articles

Liu, Q., Y. Xi, T. Terry, S.P. So, A. Mohite, J. Zhang, G. Wu, X. Liu, J. Cheng, K.H. Ruan, J.T. Willerson, and R.A. Dixon, Engineered endothelial progenitor cells that overexpress prostacyclin protect vascular cells. J Cell Physiol, 2012. 227(7): p. 2907-16.

Han, J., J. Cheng, and N. Mathuria, Pharmacologic and Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Stroke Prevention in Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol, 2012 (doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.2012.03367.x).

Yang, D., Y. Xi, T. Ai, G. Wu, J. Sun, M. Razavi, S. Delapasse, M. Shurail, L. Gao, N. Mathuria, M. Elayda, and J. Cheng, Vagal stimulation promotes atrial electrical remodeling induced by rapid atrial pacing in dogs: evidence of a noncholinergic effect. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol, 2011. 34(9): p. 1092-9.

Nazeri, A., M.A. Elayda, L. Dragnev, C.M. Frank, J. Qu, V.X. Afonso, A. Rasekh, M. Saeed, J. Cheng, M. Shuraih, A. Massumi, and M. Razavi, Heterogeneity of left ventricular signal characteristics in response to acute vagal stimulation during ventricular fibrillation in dogs. Tex Heart Inst J, 2011. 38(6): p. 621-6.

Colombowala, I.K., A. Massumi, A. Rasekh, M. Saeed, J. Cheng, B. Fakhri, M. Shuraih, and M. Razavi, Variability in postpacing intervals predicts global ventricular activation pattern during tachycardia. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol, 2010. 33(2): p. 129-34.

Li, Z., T. Ai, K. Samani, Y. Xi, H.P. Tzeng, M. Xie, S. Wu, S. Ge, M.D. Taylor, J.W. Dong, J. Cheng, M.J. Ackerman, A. Kimura, G. Sinagra, L. Brunelli, G. Faulkner, and M. Vatta, A ZASP missense mutation, S196L, leads to cytoskeletal and electrical abnormalities in a mouse model of cardiomyopathy. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol, 2010. 3(6): p. 646-56.

Yuan, X., I. Uyanik, N. Situ, Y. Xi, and J. Cheng, Coi-wiz: An interactive computer wizard for analyzing cardiac optical signals. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2009. 2009: p. 1828-31.

Samani, K., G. Wu, T. Ai, M. Shuraih, N.S. Mathuria, Z. Li, Y. Sohma, E. Purevjav, Y. Xi, J.A. Towbin, J. Cheng, and M. Vatta, A novel SCN5A mutation V1340I in Brugada syndrome augmenting arrhythmias during febrile illness. Heart Rhythm, 2009. 6(9): p. 1318-26.

Samani, K., T. Ai, J.A. Towbin, R. Brugada, M. Shuraih, Y. Xi, G. Wu, J. Cheng, and M. Vatta, A nonsense SCN5A mutation associated with Brugada-type electrocardiogram and intraventricular conduction defects. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol, 2009. 32(9): p. 1231-6.

Nazeri, A., A. Massumi, J.M. Wilson, C.M. Frank, M. Bensler, J. Cheng, M. Saeed, A. Rasekh, and M. Razavi, Arrhythmogenicity of weight-loss supplements marketed on the Internet. Heart Rhythm, 2009. 6(5): p. 658-62.


Yanzhuo Ma, Jonathan Xuhai Lu, Nancy Cheng, Shahrzad Abbasi, Geru Wu, Jie Cheng, Chu-Huang Chen and Yutao Xi. Most Negatively Charged Subfraction (L5) Induces Cardiomyocytes Damage and Reduction of Cardiac ATP-Sensitive K+ Channels. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012; 59(13):E1055. 
Link to abstract

Yutao Xi, Tomohiko Ai, Bhagyalaxmi Mohapatra, Geru Wu, Haider S. Alwash, Junping Sun, Ross T Murphy, Shaughan, Dickie, William McKenna, Jeffrey A Towbin, Jie Cheng, Matteo Vatta. Abstract 12290: The African-American Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (snp) Rs34423165 in Ldb3 Alters Kv7.1 in Familial Dcm with Qt-Prolongation. The African- Circulation. 2011;124(21):A12290. 
Link to abstract

Jia Zhang, Qi Liu, Toya Terry, Kristina X Duan, Nancy Cheng, Richard F Dixon, Jie Cheng, Yutao Xi. Paracrine Effects of Endothelial Progenitor Cells Stably Expressing Prostacyclin. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2011 Scientific Sessions (April 28-30, 2011). 2011, p. 694. 
Link to abstract

Nancy Cheng, Jonathan Lu, Junping Sun, Geru Wu, Shahrzad Abbasi, Jia Zhang, Jie Cheng, Chu-Huang Chen, Yutao Xi. Most negatively charged subfraction (L5) of plasma LDL prolongs action potential duration of rat cardiomyocytes via LOX-1 receptors. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57(14):E58. 
Link to abstract

Geru Wu, Yi Zheng, Xin Quan, Fred Baimbridge, Yutao Xi, Junping Sun, Shahrzad Abbasi, Guilherme V Silva, James T Willerson, Emerson C Perin, Jie Cheng. Abstract 19830: Reduced electromechanical activity related to the functional modification of ion channels in hibernating myocardium of porcine heart. Circulation. 2010;122(21):A19830. 
Link to abstract.  

Geru Wu, Yi Zheng, Xin Quan, Fred Baimbridge, Yutao Xi, Junping Sun, Shahrzad Abbasi, Guilherme V Silva, James T Willerson, Emerson C Perin, and Jie Cheng. Abstract 18215: Prostacyclin Secretion From Stably Engineered Rat CD45-VEGFR2+ Endothelial Progenitor Cells Preserves Potassium Channel Activity Of Human Smooth Muscle Cells Under Hypoxia. Circulation. 2010;122:A18215. 
Link to abstract.   

Haider S. Alwash, Yutao Xi, Junping Sun, Geru Wu, Shahrzad Abbasi, Jie Cheng. Abstract PO5-81. Vasoactive Intestine Polypeptide Enhanced Human Delayed Rectifier K+ Current Via A cAmp Dependent PKA Phosphorylation. Heart Rhythm 31th Annual Scientific Sessions (May 12-15 , 2010). 
Link to abstract

Yutao Xi, Tomohiko Ai, Zhaohui Li, Geru Wu, Enkhsaikhan Purevjav, Shahrzad Abbasi, Jie Cheng, Matteo Vatta. ZASP1-D117N on Z-line decreases hNav1.5 function in a DCM subject with conduction disturbances.  J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010;55(10A):A5.E41. 
Link to abstract

Junping Sun, Yutao Xi, Geru Wu, Justin Wang, Jie Cheng. Abstract 1001-21. B-type Natriuretic Peptide Prolongs Action Potential Duration through Suppressing Transient Outward Potassium Current. American College of Cardiology 59th Annual Scientific Session and/or i2 Summit 2010 (March 13-16, 2010). 
Link to abstract.  


Heart Rhythm Society

Research Support 

Agency: American Heart Association Grant-in-Aid

Principal Investigator: Jie Cheng, MD, PhD

Title: Mechanisms underlying vasoactive intestine polypeptide's effects on atrial vulnerability to fibrillation

Contact Information and Location

Electrophysiology Basic Research Laboratory 
Jie Cheng, MD, PhD
Phone: 832-355-2573

Mailing address:
MC 2-255 
PO Box 20345
Houston, TX 77225-0345

The Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Hospital - The Denton A. Cooley BuildingTexas Heart Institute — the Denton A. Cooley Building is located at 6770 Bertner Avenue. The Institute is adjacent to St. Luke's Hospital in the Texas Medical Center (TMC), near the intersection of Fannin Street and Holcombe Boulevard.

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