Article Abstract

Monitoring reperfused myocardial infarction with delayed left ventricular systolic dysfunction in rabbits by longitudinal imaging

Authors: Yuanbo Feng, Bianca Hemmeryckx, Liesbeth Frederix, Marleen Lox, Jun Wu, Ward Heggermont, Hua Rong Lu, David Gallacher, Raymond Oyen, H. Roger Lijnen, Yicheng Ni


Background: An experimental imaging platform for longitudinal monitoring and evaluation of cardiac morphology-function changes has been long desired. We sought to establish such a platform by using a rabbit model of reperfused myocardial infarction (MI) that develops chronic left ventricle systolic dysfunction (LVSD) within 7 weeks.
Methods: Fifty-five New Zeeland white (NZW) rabbits received sham-operated or 60-min left circumflex coronary artery (LCx) ligation followed by reperfusion. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI), transthoracic echocardiography (echo), and blood samples were collected at baseline, in acute (48 hours or 1 week) and chronic (7 weeks) stage subsequent to MI for in vivo assessment of infarct size, cardiac morphology, LV function, and myocardial enzymes. Seven weeks post MI, animals were sacrificed and heart tissues were processed for histopathological staining.
Results: The success rate of surgical operation was 87.27%. The animal mortality rates were 12.7% and 3.6% both in acute and chronic stage separately. Serum levels of the myocardial enzyme cardiac Troponin T (cTnT) were significantly increased in MI rabbits as compared with sham animals after 4 hours of operation (P<0.05). According to cardiac morphology and function changes, 4 groups could be distinguished: sham rabbits (n=12), and MI rabbits with no (MI_NO_LVSD; n=10), moderate (MI_M_LVSD; n=9) and severe (MI_S_LVSD; n=15) LVSD. No significant differences in cardiac function or wall thickening between sham and MI_NO_LVSD rabbits were observed at both stages using both cMRI and echo methods. cMRI data showed that MI_M_LVSD rabbits exhibited a reduction of ejection fraction (EF) and an increase in end-systolic volume (ESV) at the acute phase, while at the chronic stage these parameters did not change further. Moreover, in MI_S_LVSD animals, these observations were more striking at the acute stage followed by a further decline in EF and increase in ESV at the chronic stage. Lateral wall thickening determined by cMRI was significantly decreased in MI_M_LVSD versus MI_NO_LVSD animals at both stages (P<0.05). As for MI_S_LVSD versus MI_M_LVSD rabbits, the thickening of anterior, inferior and lateral walls was significantly more decreased at both stages (P<0.05). Echo confirmed the findings of cMRI. Furthermore, these in vivo outcomes including those from vivid cine cMRI could be supported by exactly matched ex vivo histomorphological evidences.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that chronic LVSD developed over time after surgery-induced MI in rabbits can be longitudinally evaluated using non-invasive imaging techniques and confirmed by the entire-heart-slice histomorphology. This experimental LVSD platform in rabbits may interest researchers in the field of experimental cardiology and help strengthen drug development and translational research for the management of cardiovascular diseases.