Multiple mitral leaflet contractile systems in the beating heart

Julia C. Swanson, Gaurav Krishnamurthy, Akinobu Itoh, John Peder Escobar Kvitting, Wolfgang Bothe, D. Craig Miller, Neil B. Ingels

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11 Scopus citations


Mitral valve closure may be aided by contraction of anterior leaflet (AL) cardiac myocytes located in the annular third of the leaflet. This contraction, observed as a stiffening of the annular region of the AL during isovolumic contraction (IVC), is abolished by beta-blockade (ΒB). Sub-threshold rapid pacing in the region of aorto-mitral continuity (STIM) also causes AL stiffening, although this increases the stiffness of the entire leaflet during both IVC and isovolumic relaxation (IVR). We investigated whether these contractile events share a common pathway or whether multiple AL contractile mechanisms may be present. Ten sheep had radiopaque-markers implanted: 13 silhouetting the LV, 16 on the mitral annulus, an array of 16 on the AL, and one on each papillary muscle tip. 4-D marker coordinates were obtained from biplane videofluoroscopy during control (C), ΒB (esmolol) and during ΒB+STIM. Circumferential and radial stiffness values for three AL regions (Annular, Belly, and free-Edge), were obtained from inverse finite element analysis of AL displacements in response to trans-leaflet pressure changes during IVC and IVR. ΒB+STIM increased stiffness values in all regions at both IVC and IVR by 35±7% relative to ΒB (p<0.001). Thus, even when AL myocyte contraction was blocked by ΒB, STIM stiffened all regions of the AL during both IVC and IVR. This demonstrates the presence of at least two contractile systems in the AL; one being the AL annular cardiac muscle, involving a Β-dependent pathway, others via a Β-independent pathway, likely involving valvular interstitial cells and/or AL smooth muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1333
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 29 2011


  • Anisotropy
  • Elastic modulus
  • Finite element analysis
  • Heterogeneity
  • Mitral valve


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