CARDIAC ENERGETICS: SENSE AND NONSENSE


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Abstract

SUMMARYThe background to current ideas in cardiac energetics is outlined and, in the genomic era, the need is stressed for detailed knowledge of mouse heart mechanics and energetics.The mouse heart is clearly different to the rat in terms of its excitation–contraction (EC) coupling and the common assumption that heart rate difference between mice and humans will account for the eightfold difference in myocardial oxygen consumption is wrong, because the energy per beat of the mouse heart is approximately one-third that of the human heart.In vivo evidence suggests that there may well be an eightfold species difference in the non-beating metabolism of mice and human hearts. It is speculated that the magnitude of basal metabolism in the heart is regulatable and that, in the absence of perfusion, it falls to approximately one-quarter of its in vivo rate and that in clinical conditions, such as hibernation, it probably decreases; its magnitude may be controlled by the endothelium.The active energy balance sheet is briefly discussed and it is suggested that the activation heat accounts for 20–25% of the active energy per beat and cross-bridge turnover accounts for the balance. It is argued that force, not shortening, is the major determinant of cardiac energy usage.The outcome of recent cardiac modelling with variants of the Huxley and Hill/Eisenberg models is described. It has been necessary to invoke ‘loose coupling’ to replicate the low cardiac energy flux measured at low afterloads (medium to high velocities of shortening).Lastly, some of the unexplained or ‘nonsense’ energetic data are outlined and eight unsolved problems in cardiac energetics are discussed.

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