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Circ Res. 1991 Jan;68(1):226-31.

Ventricular pressure-area loop characteristics in the stage 16 to 24 chick embryo.

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Cook Research Laboratory, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, NY 14642.


The accurate description of embryonic cardiovascular function requires the adaption of standard measurement techniques to the small scale of the developing heart. In the mature heart, the analysis of ventricular pressure and volume accurately defines function. Because in vivo measures of volume are not feasible in the embryonic heart, we tested the hypothesis that ventricular pressure-area loops accurately define ventricular function in the stage 16 to stage 24 white Leghorn chick embryo. We simultaneously measured ventricular pressure with a servo-null pressure system and recorded video images at 60 Hz. The pressure waveform was superimposed onto the video image in real time. Video fields were planimetered for epicardial ventricular cross-sectional area and ventricular pressure. Pressure and area data were smoothed using a fast Fourier transform filter and plotted. Data are reported as mean +/- SEM, n greater than or equal to 4, and were tested by regression analysis and analysis of variance (p less than 0.05). Heart rate increased from 90 +/- 7 beats/min at stage 16 to 130 +/- 13 beats/min at stage 24. All pressure-area loops displayed diastolic filling, isometric contraction, ejection, and isometric relaxation, similar to pressure-volume loops of the mature heart. Isometric contraction time increased from 42 +/- 5 to 62 +/- 4 msec (p less than 0.05), while isometric relaxation time was 124 +/- 12 and 120 +/- 10 msec (p greater than 0.05) between stages 16 and 24, respectively. The maximum ratio of instantaneous ventricular pressure to area identified end systole better than peak ventricular pressure or minimum ventricular area. Thus, pressure-area relations define ventricular function in the embryonic chick heart.

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