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Pediatr Res. 1992 Sep;32(3):333-7.

Analysis of dynamic atrial dimension and function during early cardiac development in the chick embryo.

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Strong Children's Research Center, Dorothy S. and Frederick W. Cook Research Laboratory, University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York 14642.


Although atrial morphologic changes are well documented, the description of early atrial function is limited. We used videomicroscopic methods to define the function of the contracting atrium in stage 16 to 24 white Leghorn chick embryos. We exposed the embryo in ovo (right side up) and imaged the ventricle, then repositioned the embryo (left side up) and imaged the atrium (n greater than or equal to 8 per stage). We traced the atrial endocardial border and then measured atrial perimeter (mm) and cross-sectional area (mm2). A 20-MHz pulsed Doppler velocity meter was used to measure atrioventricular blood velocity during atrial imaging in an additional six stage 21 embryos. Data were tested by analysis of variance and regression analysis. Mean heart rate change after repositioning was -4 +/- 1%. Atrial maximum and minimum area increased linearly versus embryo stage (y = 0.10x - 1.41, r = 0.89, p less than 0.05 and y = 0.05x - 0.67, r = 0.82, p less than 0.05, respectively). Shortening fraction (percentage of reduction) of atrial perimeter and area decreased from 32.3 +/- 2.0% to 27.5 +/- 1.8% (p less than 0.05) and 56.2 +/- 3.0% to 47.7 +/- 2.0% (p less than 0.05), respectively, from stage 16 to 24. During atrial contraction, the velocity of circumferential wall shortening increased linearly with stage (y = 0.22x - 2.08, r = 0.81, p less than 0.01); however, the velocity of lengthening was similar between stages (p = 0.45). Simultaneous atrial imaging and pulsed Doppler velocity measurement showed that passive atrioventricular flow occurred late in atrial lengthening and active atrioventricular flow occurred during atrial contraction.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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