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Am J Physiol. 1982 Dec;243(6):H941-7.

Use of tibial length to quantify cardiac hypertrophy: application in the aging rat.


Fluctuations in body weight as occur with aging make body weight an unreliable reference for normalizing heart weight. We compared heart weight normalized by tibial length, which remains constant after maturity, with that normalized by body weight in 5- to 28-mo-old male Wistar rats. When normalized by tibial length or body weight, relative to the 5-mo heart, the senescent left ventricle undergoes 17 vs. 38% hypertrophy, respectively, and the right ventricle undergoes 0 vs. 28% hypertrophy, respectively. Histological measurements in the 25- compared with the 5-mo-old left ventricles reveal 6% larger myocyte diameters and 12% larger cellular cross-sectional areas, indicating about 15% hypertrophy; this value agrees more closely with the estimates based on tibial length than with those based on body weight. To allow prediction of left ventricular weight in a living rat, a regression equation using body weight, age, and tibial length was derived. This enabled us to perform a longitudinal aging study that verified that the above results were not biased by selective survival. Thus, in conditions in which body weight changes, cardiac hypertrophy can be more accurately quantified by relating heart weight to tibial length than to body weight. This approach may have applicability for assessing relative sizes of other organs as well.

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