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Biophys J. 1994 Apr;66(4):953-61.

Adaptation of cardiac structure by mechanical feedback in the environment of the cell: a model study.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), University of Limburg, The Netherlands.


In the cardiac left ventricle during systole mechanical load of the myocardial fibers is distributed uniformly. A mechanism is proposed by which control of mechanical load is distributed over many individual control units acting in the environment of the cell. The mechanics of the equatorial region of the left ventricle was modeled by a thick-walled cylinder composed of 6-1500 shells of myocardial fiber material. In each shell a separate control unit was simulated. The direction of the cells was varied so that systolic fiber shortening approached a given optimum of 15%. End-diastolic sarcomere length was maintained at 2.1 microns. Regional early-systolic stretch and global contractility stimulated growth of cellular mass. If systolic shortening was more than normal the passive extracellular matrix stretched. The design of the load-controlling mechanism was derived from biological experiments showing that cellular processes are sensitive to mechanical deformation. After simulating a few hundred adaptation cycles, the macroscopic anatomical arrangement of helical pathways of the myocardial fibers formed automatically. If pump load of the ventricle was changed, wall thickness and cavity volume adapted physiologically. We propose that the cardiac anatomy may be defined and maintained by a multitude of control units for mechanical load, each acting in the cellular environment. Interestingly, feedback through fiber stress is not a compelling condition for such control.

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