Lim, H., J. A. Fallavollita, R. Hard, C. W. Kerr and J. M. Canty, Jr. Profound apoptosis-mediated regional myocyte loss and compensatory hypertrophy in pigs with hibernating myocardium. Circulation. 100:2380-6., 1999.
BACKGROUND: Myocyte apoptosis is seen in ischemic heart disease, but whether it can occur after reversible ischemia or independent of necrosis and replacement fibrosis is unknown. METHODS AND RESULTS: Pigs were instrumented with a stenosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery to chronically reduce coronary flow reserve over a period of 3 months. At this time, there was viable dysfunctional myocardium having the physiological features of hibernating myocardium. Resting subendocardial perfusion was reduced to 0.65+/-0.08 (mean+/- SEM) mL. min(-1). g(-1) in hibernating myocardium of instrumented pigs compared with 0.98+/-0.14 mL. min(-1). g(-1) in myocardium of sham- operated pigs (P<0.05). There was a critical limitation in subendocardial flow during vasodilation to 0.78+/-0.20 mL. min(-1). g(- 1) in instrumented pigs versus 3. 24+/-0.50 mL. min(-1). g(-1) in sham- operated pigs (P<0.001). Histology revealed a regional reduction in myocyte nuclear density to 995+/-100 nuclei/mm(2) in hibernating myocardium from the instrumented group versus 1534+/-65 nuclei/mm(2) in myocardium from the sham-operated group (P<0.05), regional myocyte hypertrophy (myocyte volume per nucleus, 14 183+/-2594 in the instrumented group versus 9130+/-1301 &mgr;m(3) in the sham group; P<0.05), and minimal increases in connective tissue (5.8+/-0.9% in the instrumented group versus 3.0+/-0.2% in the sham group, P<0.05). Necrosis was not identified, but apoptosis was increased from 30+/-9 myocytes per 10(6) myocyte nuclei in myocardium from the sham group to 220+/-77 myocytes per 10(6) myocyte nuclei in hibernating myocardium (P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that reversible ischemia in an area of chronically reduced coronary flow reserve induces regional myocyte loss via an apoptotic mechanism. This may contribute to the progression of chronic coronary disease to heart failure and explain the lack of complete functional recovery after revascularization in hibernating myocardium.