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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Afterload induced changes in myocardial relaxation: a mechanism for diastolic dysfunction.

BACKGROUND: Diastolic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction manifests as an upward shift of the diastolic pressure-volume relation. One of the possible causes of diastolic LV dysfunction is incomplete myocardial relaxation. It is well known that high afterload slows myocardial relaxation. This contribution investigated to what extent afterload elevation could also affect LV filling pressures including end-diastolic LV pressure (LVP). METHODS: Selective, beat-to-beat elevations of afterload were induced in anaesthetised open-chest rabbits (n = 9) by abrupt narrowing of the ascending aorta during the diastole of the preceding heartbeat. This was performed with physiological heart rate and blood pressure. RESULTS: These interventions increased systolic LVP from 90 +/- 3 mm Hg at baseline to 103 +/- 4, 123 +/- 5, 139 +/- 5 and 154 +/- 6 mm Hg. The last intervention was a total aortic occlusion inducing a first beat isovolumetric contraction. Smaller afterload elevations decreased tau (accelerated LVP fall) and did not elevate diastolic pressure-internal diameter relation (P-ID). Larger afterload elevations increased tau (decelerated LVP fall), induced an upward shift of the diastolic P-ID and increased end-diastolic LVP. Effects of afterload on end-diastolic LVP were correlated with effects on tau (r = 0.89; P < 0.01). Incomplete relaxation or load-dependent residual active state appeared to be the mechanism for this diastolic dysfunction. Similar findings were made retrospectively in dogs instrumented with circumferential segment length gauges (n = 16). CONCLUSIONS: Diastolic LV dysfunction was induced by elevated afterload in healthy hearts of rabbits and dogs. If this mechanism could be shown to be operative in the failing heart, reversal of diastolic dysfunction should contribute to the beneficial effects of vasodilating and inotropic therapy on pulmonary congestion.[1]


  1. Afterload induced changes in myocardial relaxation: a mechanism for diastolic dysfunction. Leite-Moreira, A.F., Correia-Pinto, J., Gillebert, T.C. Cardiovasc. Res. (1999) [Pubmed]
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