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The effects of glycerol treatment on the isolated rat heart

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Isolated rat hearts were perfused with a balanced electrolyte solution containing 1000mM glycerol for 15min and then perfused with normal electrolyte solution for up to 32 min. The perfusion with hypertonic glycerol solution and subsequent washout is termed “glycerol treatment”. Initially, glycerol removal causes swelling and rupture of the T-system in ventricular myocardial cells which correlates temporally with a period of cardiac arrest. Contractility returns during further glycerol removal and concomitant recovery of the T-system is observed. Atomic absorption spectometry and neutron activation analysis were used to measure ventricular sodium, potassium and calcium ion content. There is no apparent correlation between changes in ion content and cardiac arrest or recovery. The water movements were calculated from wet weight, dry weight and inulin space, and confirmed by morphometric analysis of extracellular and intracellular space. It is suggested that the swelling and rupture of the T-system is due to the rapid water movements that were observed during the onset of glycerol removal. Ultrastructural analysis of glycerol-treated atrium from the same hearts shows damage of mitochondria and of the L-system and intracellular edema. The structural changes are correlated with a loss of atrial contraction. As in ventricular myocardium, resumption of contraction is associated with an almost complete recovery from ultrastructural damage.

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Correspondence to Dr. E. Weihe.

Additional information

The studies were supported by the German Research Foundation within the SFB 90 “Cardiovasculäres System”

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Weihe, E., Hartschuh, W., Kalmbach, P. et al. The effects of glycerol treatment on the isolated rat heart. Cell Tissue Res. 185, 43–62 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00226667

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Key words

  • Isolated perfused heart (rat)
  • Glycerol treatment
  • Ultrastructure
  • Electrolytes
  • Inulin space