Properties of Myocardium in Cardiomegaly
The adult rat's ventricular myocardium is able to increase its mass markedly while maintaining its unit quality. It does so by maintaining constant the design of the sarcomeres: an increase in length is accomplished by the addition of sarcomeres in series; an increase in tension production is accomplished by the addition of more cross-sectional area of a uniform quality. This was shown by the almost constant concentration of the contractile protein, actomyosin, as well as by the histologic evidence of the constancy in the sarcomere lengths. Functional support was obtained by the finding of an identity in the parameters of the length-tension curves; the curves differed only in the absolute magnitude of the tensions, a difference that completely disappeared when suitable corrections were made for the size of the muscle. The electrical parameters also indicated a lack of change in the quality of the excitatory membrane phenomena. However, some data were presented that suggest that the myocardium may show altered properties dependent on the age of the animal. No evidence was found in support of the concept of detrimental consequences at least with this degree of cardiomegaly. It is rather concluded that this degree of cardiomegaly is accomplished without change in the basic architecture, properties, or concentration of the contractile mechanism.
- Received August 2, 1962.
- © 1963 American Heart Association, Inc.