Novel method to alter length and load in isolated mammalian cardiac myocytes

S. J. Sollott, E. G. Lakatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We have devised a novel technique enabling reversible gradations in the resting and contraction length of intact mammalian ventricular myocytes of up to 15-18% over slack length. Enzymatically isolated single cells are embedded in a transparent, elastic, cross-linked fibrin matrix, contained within a narrow elastic tube. Reversible gradations in cell length are produced via fibrin matrix stretch, produced by stretching the tube. Simultaneous measurement of cell length, edge motion, and indo 1 fluorescence during auxotonic contractions permits characterization of cell contractile function. Although force cannot be directly measured, the time integral of contractile force (i.e., relative contractile impulse, a contractile index that is independent of shortening constraints) is derived combining myocyte shortening and matrix loading. Relatively small degrees of myocyte stretch produce a lightly afterloaded model dominated by variations in preload in which there is parallel augmentation of shortening and contractile impulse (force) development. At higher degrees of stretch, significant afterloading is introduced, resulting in the development of an inverse relationship between shortening and impulse (approaching isometric conditions). Length- dependent Ca2+ myofilament activation and load-dependent relaxation are readily demonstrated in intact isolated mammalian ventricular myocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1619-H1629
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 36-4
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • auxotonic contraction
  • cardiac myocytes
  • length-dependent calcium myofilament activation
  • load-dependent relaxation
  • stretch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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