Fibrillar collagen and myocardial stiffness in the intact hypertrophied rat left ventricle.
This study tested the hypothesis that with hypertrophy, the proportion, distribution, and structural alignment of fibrillar collagen are important determinants of myocardial stiffness. Toward this end, the collagen volume fraction (morphometry), the transmural or subendocardial distribution of collagen, and the structural arrangement of fibrillar collagens (picrosirius red) were examined in the hypertrophied ventricle secondary to pressure overload (abdominal aorta banding or perinephritis), isoproterenol, and pressure overload plus isoproterenol. In the same hearts, the slopes of the systolic and diastolic stress-strain relations of the left ventricle, representing its active and passive stiffness, respectively, were obtained. In comparison with controls, we found 1) for a moderate rise in transmural collagen, active and passive stiffness increased with pressure-overload hypertrophy; 2) following isoproterenol alone there was a marked increase in subendocardial collagen, and active and passive stiffness increased; 3) in pressure-overload hypertrophy plus isoproterenol, active stiffness declined. Passive stiffness was increased except when fibrosis and thinning of the interventricular septum occurred, in which case it decreased; and 4) fibrillar collagens involved in remodeling included the formation of either collagen strands and fibers in a greater number of previously collagen-free intermuscular spaces in pressure-overload hypertrophy, or a dense crisscrossing latticework of fibers that encircled muscle fibers after isoproterenol. Thus, an increase in fibrillar collagen in pressure-overload hypertrophy is partially adaptive in that it enhances the tensile strength and three-dimensional delivery of force by the myocardium, but at the expense of reducing distensibility. The appearance of a dense collagen meshwork within the subendocardium after isoproterenol can be considered pathological in that it entraps muscle fibers causing active stiffness to fall while impairing distensibility. Finally, fibrosis may paradoxically reduce passive stiffness if it leads to a thinning of the interventricular septum.
- Copyright © 1989 by American Heart Association