, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 636-645

Approach to Quantify the Mechanical Behavior of the Intact Embryonic Chick Heart

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The heart undergoes remarkable changes during embryonic development due to genetic programing and epigenetic influences such as mechanical loads. An important goal is to develop mathematical models that describe and predict the influence of mechanics on cardiac development, yet the data needed to develop such models remain scant. In particular, prior data from embryonic hearts have come from one-dimensional tests, which reveal well the general characteristic behaviors but are not sufficient for quantifying the complex material behavior exhibited by most soft tissues. We developed a computer-controlled system for quantifying in vitro the multiaxial, regionally dependent mechanical response of the intact embryonic chick heart to controlled distension pressures; such tests have not been accomplished heretofore but promise to contribute to our understanding for they better mimic the native loading conditions and geometry. Calibration of the device indicated that distending the hearts using low flow rates avoids significant viscous losses and thereby allows pressure to be measured directly over small ranges (0–2 mmHg) with good resolution (0.01 mmHg). Likewise, an on-line video system allows two-dimensional strains to be measured regionally by tracking the motions of triplets of closely spaced (100 μm) microspheres to reasonable resolution (2.5 μm/pixel). Illustrative data from 18 hearts show the utility of the new system, confirm previous findings with regard to the strong viscoelastic response of the stage 18 embryonic chick heart, and provide guidance for the design of future experiments. © 2002 Biomedical Engineering Society.

PAC2002: 8719Hh, 8719Rr