Atrophy reversal and cardiocyte redifferentiation in reloaded cat myocardium.
We have recently described rapid cardiac atrophy in response to decreased load. The present study was designed to determine whether this atrophy is solely a degenerative response of damaged myocardium or is, instead, an adaptive response of viable myocardium. A discrete portion of cat myocardium was unloaded by severing the chordae tendinae of a single right ventricular papillary muscle. One week later, the muscle was reloaded by attachment of its apex to the ventricular free wall. This allowed the load to be removed and restored without altering the blood supply, innervation, or frequency of contraction of the tissue. In myocardium unloaded for 1 week, the cardiocyte cross-sectional area and the volume densities of mitochondria and myofibrils decreased significantly. Large areas of cytoplasm were devoid of organelles, and the few remaining myofilaments were oriented in a variety of directions rather than longitudinally within the cell. Upon reloading for 1 week, the cardiocyte cross-sectional area, volume density of mitochondria, and ultrastructural organization all returned to normal. The volume density of the myofibrils increased toward control, and they reoriented with respect to the long axis of the cardiocyte. The contractile function of the papillary muscles, which was depressed as early as 1 day after unloading and almost absent at times later than 3 days after unloading, returned to normal after 2 weeks of reloading. This study demonstrates that adult mammalian myocardium responds to unloading with a marked loss of cellular differentiation, organization, and function which is fully reversible with reloading. This plasticity in response to load may well be the basic mechanism responsible for the development and maintenance of normal cardiac structure and function.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association