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J Clin Invest. 1975 Jan;55(1):61-8.

Prolonged contraction duration in aged myocardium.


Isometric performance at 29degreesC was measured in left ventricular trabeculae carneae from young adult (6-mo) and aged (25-mo) rats (n equals 18 in each group). Active tension and maximal rate of tension development did not differ with age, but contraction duration was 255plus or minus6 ms in the young adult and 283plus or minus6 ms in the aged group (P less than0.001). Although catecholamine content per gram heart weight was less in the aged myocardium, additional experiments showed that neither 1 times 10-6 M propranolol nor pretreatment with 6-hydroxydopamine eliminated the age difference in contraction duration. To determine if this age difference resulted from a prolonged active state, electromechanical dissociation and the overshoot of contraction duration during recovery from hypoxia were measured. During paired stimulation greater mechanical refractoriness was found in aged muscles (P less than0.01), but intracellular action potential recordings showed no age difference in the electrical refractory period. On recovery from hypoxia, contraction duration overshoot was 117plus or minus 4percent of control in the young and 138plus or minus 4percent of control in the aged muscles (P less than0.01). The greater electromechanical dissociation and greater overshoot in contraction duration following hypoxia in aged myocardium suggests that prolonged contraction duration in aged myocardium results from a prolonged active state rather than changes in passive properties or myocardial catecholamine content.

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