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Blood Press. 1992 Aug;1(2):75-85.

Pathologic hypertrophy with fibrosis: the structural basis for myocardial failure.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia.


The major risk factor associated with the appearance of adverse cardiovascular events and outcome attributable to cardiovascular disease is left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Why this should be so resides not in the increase in myocardial mass per se, but in the disruption of myocardial structure. An abnormal accumulation of fibrillar collagen within the adventitia of intramyocardial coronary arteries and neighboring interstitial spaces represents such a distortion in structure. Furthermore, this fibrosis disrupts the electrical and mechanical behavior of the hypertrophied myocardium. Mechanisms responsible for fibrillar collagen accumulation have been examined in intact animals and cultured cardiac fibroblasts. In vivo studies indicate that myocardial fibrosis is associated with the presence of chronic mineralocorticoid excess, relative to sodium intake and excretion, not hemodynamic workload. Accordingly, fibrosis can appear in both the hypertensive, hypertrophied and nonhypertensive, nonhypertrophied ventricles. In both primary and secondary hyperaldosteronism it was possible to prevent myocardial fibrosis with an aldosterone receptor antagonist, while in unilateral renal ischemia angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition was similarly cardioprotective. A regression in fibrous tissue and normalization of diastolic stiffness has also been possible using ACE inhibition, bringing forward the concept of cardioreparation and the notion that heart failure due to fibrosis may be reversible. In vitro studies indicate that effector hormones of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system stimulate fibroblast collagen synthesis. Aldosterone, in pathophysiologic concentrations, and angiotensin II, in much larger concentrations, each enhance collagen synthesis without altering the mitogenic potential of these cells. Thus, elevations in circulating aldosterone and angiotensin II, relative to sodium intake, have the potential to not only alter sodium homeostasis and vascular tonicity, but also the structure of cardiovascular tissue. Thus, myocardial fibrosis represents a structural basis for pathologic hypertrophy and ultimately accounts for the appearance of adverse cardiovascular events and outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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