The purpose of this study was to identify and explain changes in ventricular and cellular function that contribute to aging-associated cardiovascular disease in aging F344 rats. Three groups of female F344 rats, aged 6-, 18- and 22-months of age, were studied. Echocardiographic measurements in isoflurane-anesthetized animals showed an increase in peak left ventricular torsion between the 6- and the 18-month-old groups that was partially reversed in the 22-month-olds (p<0.05). Epicardial, midmyocardial, and endocardial myocytes were subsequently isolated from the left ventricles of each group of rats. Unloaded sarcomere shortening and Ca2+ transients were then measured in these cells (n>75 cells for each of the 9 age-region groups). The decay time of the Ca2+ transient and the time required for 50% length relaxation both increased with age, but not uniformly across the three regions (p<0.02). Further analysis revealed a significant shift in the transmural distribution of these properties between 18 and 22 months of age, with the largest changes occurring in epicardial myocytes. Computational modeling suggested that these changes were due in part to slower Ca2+ dissociation from troponin in aging epicardial myocytes. Subsequent biochemical assays revealed a >50% reduction in troponin I phosphoprotein content in 22-month-old epicardium relative to the other regions. These data suggest that between 18 and 22 months of age (prior to the onset of heart failure), F344 rats display epicardial-specific myofilament-level modifications that (1) break from the progression observed between 6 and 18 months and (2) coincide with aberrant patterns of cardiac torsion.
- heart failure
- transmural heterogeneity
- left ventricular torsion
- Copyright © 2012, American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology