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Eur J Morphol. 1998 Apr;36(2):105-19.

A quantitative study of the ventricular myoarchitecture in the stage 21-29 chick embryo following decreased loading.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland david.sedmera


During the early developmental period, ventricular myoarchitecture undergoes a transition from a smooth-walled cardiac tube, to left and right ventricular chambers filled with a sponge-like network of trabecular struts. We measured the quantitative changes of ventricular myocardium properties in normal stage 21-29 chick embryos and after chronic verapamil suffusion, which is known to decrease work load and decelerate ventricular growth. The morphologic parameters (compact layer thickness, ventricular wall composition, porosity of different layers and trabecular orientation) were determined from scanning electron micrographs of transversely dissected perfusion-fixed hearts. A vascular bed of stage 21 chick embryos was suffused with 1 ng of verapamil at 1 microliter per hour up to stages 24, 27 and 29 via a miniosmotic pump. From stage 24, the thickness of the compact myocardium in the left ventricle was greater than that of the right. The increase in thickness was minimal between stages 24 and 27, while the predominantly radially arranged trabeculae comprised up to 75% to total myocardial mass. The ratio of intertrabecular spaces to trabeculae (local porosity) decreased form the ventricular center (70%) towards the compact myocardium (0%). In verapamil-treated embryos, the hearts were smaller and showed delayed development. The compact myocardium was thinner than normal, and the proportion of trabeculae was higher than in controls. The local porosity values were similar in control and experimental groups. Decreased load resulted in delayed growth and morphogenesis, expressed as persistence of trabeculae and a thinner compact myocardium. Embryonic heart pumping function is largely based on extensively developed trabeculation with regionally different properties.

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