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Am J Pathol. 1974 Mar;74(3):399-422.

Effect of a transient period of ischemia on myocardial cells. II. Fine structure during the first few minutes of reflow.


Changes produced in the posterior papillary muscle of the dog following 40 minutes of circumflex artery occlusion and 0 to 20 minutes of blood reflow were studied by electron miroscopy. With no reflow of blood, myocardial cells were modestly swollen, contained amorphous matrix densities in the mitochondria, had aggregation and margination of nuclear chromatin and relaxation of myofibrils. With as little as 2 minutes of blood reflow, cells developed contraction bands and were greatly swollen due to a generalized increase in sarcoplasmic space, formation of vacuoles and swelling of mitochondria. Frequently, cell membranes were lifted away from the myofibers, forming large subsarcolemmal blebs which appeared capable of compressing adjacent capillaries. The extracellular space did not appear to be enlarged, and the marked tissue edema found after reflow was due primarily to accumulation of intracellular fluid. In addition to explosive cell swelling, there was, over the 2- to 20-minute period of reflow, a progressive increase in size and number of granular mitochondrial dense bodies of the calcium accumulation type. No significant changes in lysosomes were observed. The speed with which the morphologic changes developed during very early reflow periods suggests that irreversible ischemic injury produces a defect in cell volume regulation during the phase of ischemia and that this defect becomes manifest if arterial flow is restored to the affected cells.

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