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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jun;112(12):2043-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00195.2012. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Cardiac torsion-strain relationships in fatigued primary biliary cirrhosis patients show accelerated aging: a pilot cross-sectional study.

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Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre and Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


The autoimmune liver disease primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is associated with life-altering fatigue in ∼50% of patients. Previous work suggests that fatigued PBC subjects have evidence of autonomic dysfunction and may be at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death. The manifestation of this risk is not clear. This pilot study investigated whether alterations in cardiac torsion and strain could be detected in fatigued or nonfatigued early-stage PBC patients. We performed cardiac tissue tagging and anatomical cine-imaging in 13 early-stage PBC patients (including 7 with significant fatigue) and 10 control subjects to calculate cardiac torsion and strain throughout systole and diastole. From the cardiac tagging, we calculated the torsion-to-shortening ratio (TSR), a measure of subepicardial torsion exerting mechanical advantage over subendocardial shortening. Autonomic function testing was performed to evaluate baroreceptor effective index on standing. TSR was markedly increased in the fatigued PBC patients (0.70 ± 0.13) compared with both controls (0.46 ± 0.11, P = 0.002) and nonfatigued PBC patients (0.44 ± 0.12, P = 0.003). Decreased baroreceptor effective index on standing strongly correlated with increased TSR within the whole PBC group (r = -0.71, P = 0.007). Fatigued PBC patients demonstrate a redistribution of myocardial strain characteristic of a reduced relative contribution to contraction from the subendocardium. This is analogous to the changes found in healthy aging for subjects ∼16 yr older than the fatigued PBC patients. Hence the hearts of fatigued PBC patients may be subject to processes of accelerated aging.

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