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Am J Cardiol. 1991 Nov 18;68(14):7D-16D.

Cellular basis of ventricular remodeling after myocardial infarction.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595.


To determine whether acute left ventricular failure associated with myocardial infarction leads to architectural changes in the spared nonischemic portion of the ventricular wall, large infarcts were produced in rats, and the animals were sacrificed 2 days after surgery. Left ventricular end-diastolic pressure was increased, whereas left ventricular dP/dt and systolic pressure were decreased, indicating the presence of severe ventricular dysfunction. Absolute infarct size, determined by measuring the fraction of myocyte nuclei lost from the left ventricular free wall, averaged 63%. Transverse midchamber diameter increased by 20%, and wall thickness diminished by 33%. The number of mural myocytes in this spared region of the left ventricular free wall decreased by 36% and the capillary profiles by 40%. Thus, side-to-side slippage of myocytes in the myocardium occurs acutely in association with ventricular dilation after a large myocardial infarction. In order to analyze the chronic consequences of myocardial infarction on ventricular remodeling, a second group of experiments was performed in which the left coronary artery was ligated and the functional and structural properties of the heart were examined 1 month later. In infarcts affecting an average 38% of the free wall of the left ventricle (small infarcts), reactive hypertrophy in the spared myocardium resulted in a complete reconstitution of functioning tissue. However, left ventricular end-diastolic pressure was increased, left ventricular dP/dt was decreased, and diastolic wall stress was increased 2.4-fold. After infarctions resulting in a 60% loss of mass (large infarcts), a 10% deficit was present in the recovery of viable myocardium. Functionally, ventricular performance was markedly depressed, and diastolic wall stress was increased 9-fold. The alterations in loading of the spared myocardium were due to an increase in chamber volume and a decrease in the myocardial mass/chamber volume ratio that affected both infarct groups. Thus, decompensated eccentric ventricular hypertrophy develops chronically after infarction and growth processes in myocytes are inadequate for normalization of wall stress when myocyte loss involves nearly 40% or more of the cells of the left ventricular free wall. The persistence of elevated myocardial and cellular loads may sustain the progression of the disease state toward end-stage congestive heart failure.

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