Septic shock is a complex cardiovascular dysfunction which leads to regional circulatory alterations and multi-organ dysfunction in humans and animal models. To elucidate the role of stress-activated signaling molecules in the regulation of myocardial dysfunction, we have developed and standardized isolated ventricular myocyte techniques. These techniques allow the assessment of cardiodynamics at cellular (ventricular myocyte) level. These studies are carried out in a well defined model of systemic inflammatory response syndrome following polymicrobial sepsis in the rat. Evidence is provided that sepsis-induced myocardial dysfunction produces indications (signs) of early stages of heart failure. This evidence correlates with upregulation of stress-activated protein kinase cascade. These findings suggest that prolonged exposure to endothelin precursor causes decompensatory hypertrophy in adult rat ventricular myocytes (ARVMs) during sepsis. The decompensatory hypertrophy could, in turn, results in increased cytosolic caspases-3 activity in ARVMs.
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