Morphology of electrophysiologically identified junctions between Purkinje fibers and ventricular muscle in rabbit and pig hearts.
Purkinje fiber-ventricular muscle (PV) junctions were identified by extracellular recording in isolated, superfused preparations from rabbit and pig hearts. Microelectrode recordings from different cell types at the PV junctions were obtained, and the cells recorded from were retrieved microscopically. To this end 26 tissue blocks were serially sectioned at 4 microns. Microscopic identification of the very cell recorded from was obtained in five of seven Purkinje, five of 16 transitional, and two of two ventricular muscle cell recordings. In addition, some tissue blocks from both junctional and nonjunctional sites identified only by extracellular recording were examined in serial sections. Transitional cells in the rabbit heart are thin, broad bandlike cells (30-35 by 3-5 microns) arranged in one or two sheets in the subendocardium between the Purkinje layer and ventricular mass. Transitional cells are coupled via short, thin strands to both Purkinje and ventricular muscle cells. A second type of PV coupling was observed frequently in the pig, but in only one of 21 cases in the rabbit. Here, a short, linear segment of small transitional cells connected large-diameter Purkinje cells to ventricular muscle cells. Distances found between Purkinje-transitional cell coupling sites and transitional cell-ventricular muscle coupling sites varied from 100 to 1,000 microns in the rabbit heart and from 50 to several hundred micrometers in the pig heart. Action potentials from transitional cells typically showed multiple components in their upstroke. Both our morphological and electrophysiological findings are compatible with the existence of a relatively high-resistance barrier between Purkinje and transitional cells and between transitional and ventricular muscle cells.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association