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Hum Pathol. 1991 Feb;22(2):138-46.

Nerve fibers in human myocardial scars.

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Laboratory Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle, WA.


The relationships between ischemic heart disease, myocardial scars, ventricular nerve fibers, and ventricular arrhythmias have not been established despite considerable evidence suggesting important correlations. We recently described the reactions of nerve fibers in necrotic, healing, and healed rat myocardium. Prompted by these studies and by the lack of similar information for humans, we studied the structural relationships between nerve fibers and human myocardial scars. Hearts were obtained from transplant surgery and autopsy. Nerve fibers were labeled with antibody to S-100 protein. Light and electron microscopy of left ventricular scars revealed (1) fiber densities greater than those in adjacent intact myocardium, (2) fiber aggregates concentrated irregularly along the periphery of lesions, (3) fibers few in number or absent in the deeper aspects of scars, and (4) axonal enlargements containing clear and dense storage granules within the fiber aggregates. Like all other elements of the scars, the nerve fibers appeared to be oriented predominantly in the long axis of myocytes located at the edges of the lesions. Based on our experimental findings in rat hearts, these studies suggest that human myocardial nerve fibers regenerate after necrotizing injuries and that at least some of the resulting scar-associated fibers have structural features differing from those in uninjured myocardium. We suspect that these structural differences might be associated with functional alterations that could affect the triggering of ventricular arrhythmias.

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