Left ventricular dysfunction induced by chronic alcohol ingestion in rats

J. M. Capasso, P. Li, G. Guideri, P. Anversa


To determine whether moderate ingestion of alcohol for protracted periods of time affects normal cardiac performance and produces myocyte damage, male Fischer 344 rats at 4 mo of age were given 30% ethanol in their drinking water every day for a period of 8 mo. Experimental animals and age-matched controls were examined hemodynamically and morphometrically at 12 mo of age. Body and cardiac growth were depressed in alcoholic animals by 15 and 12%, respectively. Although left ventricular (LV) weight was reduced by 14% in alcoholic rats, no difference in right ventricular (RV) weight was noted, and consequently the ratio of RV weight to body weight increased by 12%. Systemic arterial pressures as well as LV peak systolic pressure decreased in alcoholic rats despite an unchanged heart rate. Myocardial contractility in alcoholic rats was further depressed as revealed by a significant decrease in the peak rate of ventricular pressure decay. Importantly, end-diastolic pressure was elevated 5.2-fold in the left ventricle and 2.9-fold in the right ventricle after 8 mo of ethanol consumption. LV diastolic chamber volume increased through myocardial remodeling as the longitudinal axis and transverse diameters from the base to the apex increased in experimental animals while the thickness of the LV diminished. Structural and hemodynamic alterations resulted in a 571% increase in the volume of diastolic circumferential wall stress on the left ventricle. Damage to the myocardium was increased in alcoholic animals with the volume percent of myocardial lesions increasing 342% in the wall of the left ventricle.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)