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Am J Physiol. 1999 Sep;277(3 Pt 2):H1053-60.

Independent effects of preload, afterload, and contractility on left ventricular torsion.

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Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


Shortening of oblique left ventricular (LV) fibers results in torsion. A unique relationship between volume and torsion is therefore expected, and the effects of load and contractility on torsion should be predictable. However, volume-independent behavior of torsion has been observed, and the effects of load on this deformation remain controversial. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with tagging to study the relationships between load and contractility, and torsion. In ten isolated, blood-perfused canine hearts, ejection was controlled by a servopump: end-diastolic volume (EDV) was controlled by manipulating preload parameters and end-systolic volume (ESV) by manipulating afterload using a three-element windkessel model. MRI was obtained at baseline, two levels of preload alteration, two levels of afterload alteration, and dobutamine infusion. An increase in EDV resulted in an increase in torsion at constant ESV (preload effect), whereas an increase in ESV resulted in a decrease in torsion at constant EDV (afterload effect). Dobutamine infusion increased torsion in association with an increase in LV peak-systolic pressure (PSP), even at identical EDV and ESV. Multiple regression showed correlation of torsion with preload (EDV), afterload (ESV), and contractility (PSP; r = 0.67). Furthermore, there was a close linear relationship between torsion and stroke volume (SV) and ejection fraction (EF) during load alteration, but torsion during dobutamine infusion was greater than expected for the extent of ejection. Preload and afterload influence torsion through their effects on SV and EF, and there is an additional direct inotropic effect on torsion that is independent of changes in volume but rather is force dependent. There is therefore potential for the torsion-volume relation to provide a load-independent measure of contractility that could be measured noninvasively.

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