Load regulation of the properties of adult feline cardiocytes. The role of substrate adhesion.
We have recently described rapid and reversible changes in cardiac structure, function, and composition in response to surgical load alteration in vivo. In the present study, we used a simple, well-defined in vitro experimental model system, consisting of terminally differentiated quiescent adult cat ventricular cardiocytes maintained in serum-free culture medium, to assess more definitively the role of loading conditions in regulating these same biological properties of heart muscle. Cardiocytes considered to be externally loaded were adherent throughout their length to a protein substrate, such that the tendency for the ends of the cells to retract was prevented. Cardiocytes considered to be unloaded were not adherent to a substrate and, thus, were free to assume a spherical shape. Cardiocyte structure and surface area were assessed, in initially identified cells, both by serial light microscopy and by terminal electron microscopy. Cardiocyte function was assessed in terms of the ability to exclude trypan blue, to remain quiescent with relaxed sarcomeres containing I-bands, and to shorten in response to electrical stimulation. Cardiocyte composition was first assessed by quantitative gel electrophoresis of proteins and then by microfluorimetric measurement of ribonucleic acid, protein, and deoxyribonucleic acid. In addition, cardiocyte incorporation of [3H]thymidine into deoxyribonucleic acid and [3H]uridine into ribonucleic acid were measured. Loading via substrate adhesion was found to be very effective in terms of each of these measurements in retaining the differentiated features of adult cardiocytes for up to 2 weeks in culture; unattached and thus unloaded cardiocytes quickly dedifferentiated. Conditions thought to stimulate cardiac growth, including catecholamine stimulation, were found to be ineffective. These experiments demonstrate that external load has a primary role in the maintenance of the basic differentiated properties of adult mammalian cardiocytes.
- Copyright © 1986 by American Heart Association