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Altered pressure in the developing left ventricle (LV) results in altered morphology and tissue material properties. Mechanical stress and strain may play a role in the regulating process. This study showed that confocal microscopy, three-dimensional reconstruction, and finite element analysis can provide a detailed model of stress and strain in the trabeculated embryonic heart. The method was used to test the hypothesis that end-diastolic strains are normalized after altered loading of the LV during the stages of trabecular compaction and chamber formation. Stage-29 chick LVs subjected to pressure overload and underload at stage 21 were reconstructed with full trabecular morphology from confocal images and analyzed with finite element techniques. Measured material properties and intraventricular pressures were specified in the models. The results show volume-weighted end-diastolic von Mises stress and strain averaging 50–82% higher in the trabecular tissue than in the compact wall. The volume-weighted-average stresses for the entire LV were 115, 64, and 147Pa in control, underloaded, and overloaded models, while strains were 11, 7, and 4%; thus, neither was normalized in a volume-weighted sense. Localized epicardial strains at mid-longitudinal level were similar among the three groups and to strains measured from high-resolution ultrasound images. Sensitivity analysis showed changes in material properties are more significant than changes in geometry in the overloaded strain adaptation, although resulting stress was similar in both types of adaptation. These results emphasize the importance of appropriate metrics and the role of trabecular tissue in evaluating the evolution of stress and strain in relation to pressure-induced adaptation.


Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology


DOI 10.1007/s10237-012-0461-0


online first publication - see DOI above


Mechanical Engineering