Decreased Myocardial Contractility in Papillary Muscles from Atherosclerotic Rabbits

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To determine the effect atherosclerosis has on myocardial contractility, we studied the contractile properties of right ventricular papillary muscles from 34 atherosclerotic and 17 control rabbits. We produced atherosclerosis by feeding for 2 to 8 months a diet of 5% lard, 5% peanut oil, 0.5% cholesterol, and 89.5% rabbit pellets. The controls received only rabbit pellets during the same time interval. Contracting isometrically 12 times per minute at 25°C, muscles from the atherosclerotic rabbits developed tension at a lower ma-rimum rate (max dT/dt), had a longer latency, and required longer to develop tension at the maximum rate and to develop peak tension. In isotonic contractions, they shortened with lower mmiimim velocities and required longer to accelerate to muTimiim velocity and to shorten maximally. We found no evidence that developed tension or distance shortened differed between the two groups of muscles. Raising the contraction frequency to 24 contractions ner minute brought performance of the two groups of muscles closer in both types of contraction. Norepinephrine (1.5 x 10-6M) nearly abolished differences between performance of the two groups. The loss of contractility correlates poorly with coronary and aortic atherosclerosis. It occurred early in the feeding of the atherogenic diet. We think it was due to a lipid-induced defect in the cardiac cell's handling of calcium. Circ Res 45: 338-346, 1979

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