Original Paper

Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 11-26

First online:

Modeling active muscle contraction in mitral valve leaflets during systole: a first approach

  • B. SkallerudAffiliated withDepartment of Structural Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology Email author 
  • , V. ProtAffiliated withCenter for Biomedical Computing, Simula Research Laboratory
  • , I. S. NordrumAffiliated withDepartment of Laboratory Medicine, Children’s and Women’s Health, Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyDepartment of Pathology and Medical Genetics, St. Olavs Hospital


The present study addresses the effect of muscle activation contributions to mitral valve leaflet response during systole. State-of-art passive hyperelastic material modeling is employed in combination with a simple active stress part. Fiber families are assumed in the leaflets: one defined by the collagen and one defined by muscle activation. The active part is either assumed to be orthogonal to the collagen fibers or both orthogonal to and parallel with the collagen fibers (i.e. an orthotropic muscle fiber model). Based on data published in the literature and information herein on morphology, the size of the leaflet parts that contain muscle fibers is estimated. These parts have both active and passive materials, the remaining parts consist of passive material only. Several solid finite element analyses with different maximum activation levels are run. The simulation results are compared to corresponding echocardiography at peak systole for a porcine model. The physiologically correct flat shape of the closed valve is approached as the activation levels increase. The non-physiological bulging of the leaflet into the left atrium when using passive material models is reduced significantly. These results contribute to improved understanding of the physiology of the native mitral valve, and add evidence to the hypothesis that the mitral valve leaflets not are just passive elements moving as a result of hemodynamic pressure gradients in the left part of the heart.


Mitral valve Muscle activation Constitutive modeling Finite element analysis