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J Anat. 1995 Jun;186 ( Pt 3):585-92.

Ultrastructural features of left ventricular myocytes in active and torpid hamsters compared with rats: a morphometric study.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, UK.

Erratum in

  • J Anat 1996 Jun;188(Pt 3):751.


Myocytes from the midmyocardium of the left ventricle of rats and hamsters were examined by transmission electron microscopy. The volume fraction of lipid droplets in such myocytes was about 6 times greater in the active hamster than in the rat, but it became progressively reduced during cold exposure and entry into hibernation to values similar to those of the rat. The volume fraction of the T-system as well as the surface density of its membranes were each found to be twice as large in hamster myocytes as in the rat but there was no difference in these parameters between control, cold-exposed and torpid hamsters. The surface density of the junctional sarcoplasmic reticulum coupled with elements of the T-system was greater in active hamsters when compared with those of the rat, and greater still in torpid hamsters. There was no significant difference in the surface density of free sarcoplasmic reticulum between control hamsters, cold-exposed hamsters and rats but it was almost doubled in torpid hamsters. It is proposed that these features represent inherent differences in the ultrastructure of the left ventricle between the rat and hamster that may facilitate entry into hibernation. Additionally, further structural modifications during entry into hibernation may be related to alterations in lipid metabolism and modifications of calcium handling.

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