Epicardial strains were measured in Hamburger-Hamilton stage 11 and 12 embryonic chick hearts (1.6-2.0 days of incubation). These stages include part of the early phase of cardiac looping, as the initially straight heart tube bends and twists to form a curved c-shaped tube. By analyzing the motion of microbeads placed on the myocardial surface, we measured strains near the outer curvature, in the central region, and near the inner curvature of the primitive ventricle. No significant differences in strain were found between stages. Relative to end diastole, all three regions shortened by about 10% during systole in the circumferential direction, and the outer curvature shortened longitudinally by about 5%. In contrast, and unlike strains in older hearts, the inner curvature and central regions elongated by approximately 5-10% in the longitudinal direction during systole. These results are consistent with microstructural data and suggest that the material properties of the outer curvature are relatively isotropic, whereas the properties of the central and inner curvature regions are orthotropic, with contractile stress exerted primarily in the circumferential direction.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Mark Gister (a Washington University undergraduate) for alerting us to the fact that the inner curvature of the embryonic chick heart lengthens in the longitudinal direction during systole. This work was supported by NIH/NHLBI grant R01 HL64347 (LAT).
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