Structural and electrophysiological changes in the epicardial border zone of canine myocardial infarcts during infarct healing.
Structural and electrophysiological properties of the epicardial muscle which survives on the surface of transmural infarcts of the canine heart (epicardial border zone) were studied at different times after occlusion of the left anterior coronary artery (LAD). Isolated preparations were superfused in vitro, transmembrane potentials recorded, and impulse propagation mapped. In preparations from subacute infarcts (1 and 5 days), resting potential, action potential amplitude, upstroke velocity, and duration were all significantly reduced. Well-defined directional differences in propagation occurred. Propagation was more rapid in the direction perpendicular to the left anterior coronary artery than in the direction perpendicular to the base of the heart, because of the uniform anisotropic structure of the surviving muscle fibers which were arranged in tightly packed bundles oriented perpendicular to the left anterior coronary artery. The only ultrastructural abnormalities found in these muscle fibers was an accumulation of large amounts of lipid droplets. As the infarcts healed, resting potential, action potential amplitude, and upstroke velocity returned to normal by 2 weeks, although action potential duration decreased further. Lipid droplets had disappeared, and connective tissue had invaded the epicardial border zone, separating the muscle bundles. By 2 months, action potentials were normal, but the muscle fibers were widely separated and disoriented by the connective tissue (parallel bundles no longer were found). In these regions with a nonuniform anisotropic structure, the well-defined directional differences in impulse propagation were lost. However, activation was very slow, perhaps because of diminished connections between cells. The persistence of slow conduction in healed infarcts may contribute to the occurrence of chronic arrhythmias.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Heart Association