BugHeart: software for online monitoring and quantitation of contractile activity of the insect heart

  • Arnaldo Fim NetoEmail author
  • Rosana A. Bassani
  • Pedro X. Oliveira
  • José W.M. Bassani
Original Article



The insect heart (dorsal vessel, DV) is considered a valuable model for studies on cardiac genetics, development, and physiology. However, as software for monitoring and quantitation of insect cardiac activity is not commercially available, most studies depend on time-consuming, post hoc analysis of video records. In this study, a computer program (BugHeart) was developed for this purpose, and applied to the determination of the octopamine effects on Tenebrio molitor DV.


The software was developed in Labview 11.0 for online processing of amplified video images of the transilluminated DV, in which systolic variation of the luminal diameter can be monitored over successive contraction cycles by video-tracking the tube inner edge. The possibility of adjustment of light intensity threshold and the introduction of calibration allow online quantitation of the DV luminal diameter and its cyclic variation (contraction amplitude), as well as heart rate (HR) estimation. The program can export video and text files for documentation and further analysis.


BugHeart showed to be user-friendly and to allow continuous assessment of the preparation stability and response to drugs. Post hoc estimation of fractional vessel shortening (FS) and contraction temporal parameters was possible by applying simple calculations to the exported data. Octopamine produced significant cardioacceleration at 1 μM, while at 10 μM it also increased FS and abbreviated relaxation.


By providing online monitoring of cardiac activity and facilitating parameter estimation, BugHeart proved to be a useful tool and allowed characterization of octopamine cardiostimulatory effects in T. molitor—here reported for the first time.


Dorsal vessel Heart rate Chronotropic activity Inotropic activity Computer program Octopamine 



We are indebted to Ms. Elizângela S. Oliveira (Center for Biomedical Engineering/UNICAMP) for technical support.

Author contributions

Conception and design: José WM Bassani

Project administration: José WM Bassani

Funding: José WM Bassani

Method development and experimental application: Arnaldo Fim Neto, Rosana A Bassani, Pedro X Oliveira, and José WM Bassani

Data acquisition and analysis: Arnaldo Fim Neto

Manuscript writing: Arnaldo Fim Neto and Rosana A Bassani

Manuscript review and editing: Arnaldo Fim Neto, Rosana A Bassani, Pedro X Oliveira, and José WM Bassani

Funding information

This study was supported by the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento (CNPq), grant nos. 302996/2011-7 (JWMB), and 155508/2010-5 and 163911/2012-6 (scholarship to AFN).

Program availability

Investigators interested in using BugHeart in their experimental studies may contact by e-mail the corresponding author who should provide them the software and instructions for its installation.

Compliance with ethical standards

All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Brasileira de Engenharia Biomedica 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringSchool of Electrical and Computer Engineering (FEEC)CampinasBrazil
  2. 2.Center of Engineering, Modelling and Applied Social Sciences (CECS)Federal University of ABC (UFABC)São Bernardo do CampoBrazil
  3. 3.Center for Biomedical Engineering (CEB)University of Campinas (UNICAMP)CampinasBrazil

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