Pathology of the Cardiac Collagen Matrix: Mechanical and Functional Effects
The normal structure of the cardiac collagen matrix includes intercellular and myocyte-to-capillary struts which provide short bridges important in diastolic alignment and ventricular filling, collagen weaves which maintain structural integrity, coiled perimysial fibers which coordinate function in the beat-to-beat cardiac cycle, and the epimysium, surrounding the muscle to provide resistance to overstretch.
The pathologic changes in the collagen matrix observed with various cardiomyopathic processes have been discussed. Early changes in the struts and weaves contribute to the diastolic dysfunctions characteristic of these cardiomyopathies. When myocardial ischemia occurs in the absence of necrosis, early focal loss of connective tissue components is observed. Return of normal cardiac function following an ischemic insult is postulated to result after repair of the connective tissue matrix.
The Syrian hamster provides an interesting model to study connective tissue changes associated with a chronic cardiomyopathic process. Cardiac dysfunction out of proportion to the myocellular alterations is noted. Losses of connective tissue elements surrounding areas of necrosis are thought to contribute to the functional aberrations. Further studies to elucidate the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in connective tissue loss in this animal are necessary, and may be helpful in elucidating the ‘final common pathway’ of connective tissue injury observed in virtually every chronic cardiac pathologic process.
KeywordsSyrian Hamster Stun Myocardium Connective Tissue Component Connective Tissue Element Short Bridge
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