This study was designed to assess heart performance in young (10-week- old) spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats, in terms of whole heart function in vivo and mechanics of isolated ventricular myocytes in vitro. The data suggest that left ventricular pressure (LVP) generation is greater, and the maximal velocities of LVP generation and decline are faster in SHR than in WKY. Two-dimensional morphologic measurements show that SHR myocytes are hypertrophied and that augmented contractile function is also present in isolated cells as determined by the extent of shortening and velocity of shortening. Relaxation is also faster at the myocyte level as determined by velocity of relengthening. However, the slope of the relationship between myocyte peak shortening and velocity of relaxation was similar in both groups. These results suggest that hyperdynamic myocyte relengthening may reflect changes in elastic recoil from increased shortening rather than intrinsic changes in cellular mechanisms, which are independent of shortening.
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