Developmental changes in the ultrastructure and sarcomere shortening of the isolated rabbit ventricular myocyte.
Sarcomere shortening and ultrastructure of intact isolated myocytes from ventricles of three-week-old and adult rabbits were examined. Cells were fixed and embedded, and after measuring their sarcomere shortening in response to electrical stimulation, they were examined in serial thin sections by electron microscopy. This structure-function analysis showed that adult cells were significantly larger, had longer rest sarcomere lengths, greater amount and velocity of sarcomere shortening, greater velocity of reextension, and shorter contraction duration than immature cells. In immature myocytes, a thin outer shell of myofibrils enveloped a central mass of mitochondria and nuclei, but in adult cells, the cytoskeleton divided the cell into compartments with the mitochondria arranged around and interspersed among the myofibrils. The different arrangement of the organelles and the cytoskeleton at the two ages may account for the shorter rest sarcomere length in the young myocytes and may confer differing internal loads that contribute to their smaller amount and velocity of sarcomere shortening. The corbular and longitudinal sarcoplasmic reticulum were less demarcated in immature than in adult cells. Myocytes from both ages showed postextrasystolic potentiation, suggesting that the sarcoplasmic reticulum modulates calcium at both ages. Restitution of contractility between contractions, obtained by measuring sarcomere shortening of interpolated extrasystoles, was faster in immature than in adult cells and may reflect the structural differences in the sarcoplasmic reticulum. The developmental differentiation in the sarcoplasmic reticulum suggests that changes in compartmentalization of calcium and in the distribution of putative calcium-release sites contribute to the increased contractility of adult myocytes.
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association