Basic Research in Cardiology

, Volume 87, Issue 4, pp 344–355 | Cite as

Decreased susceptibility to arrhythmias in hypertrophied hearts of physically trained rats

  • P. Bélichard
  • D. Pruneau
  • J. L. Salzmann
  • R. Rouet
Original Contributions


The aim of this study was to investigate the propensity to develop cardiac arrhythmias during an acute period of ischemia between normal and hypertrophied (by means of a swimming training regimen) rat hearts. We used the coronary artery ligation in vivo technique which induced the occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias in rats that was followed by the determination of the occluded zone size. This study was coupled to an in vitro study using a two-compartment tissue bath in which half of the ventricular preparation was exposed to normal conditions and the other to ischemic conditions (low pH, hypoxia, and hyperkalemia). We also measured the collagen content and the DNA/protein ratio of the hearts.

Twenty-eight male Wistar rats submitted to an eight-week swimming training (SWT) and twenty-eight cage-confined matched rats were used for the studies. SWT resulted in a 14% decrease in mean body weight and an 8% increase in absolute heart weight. We also observed a resting bradycardia in the trained animals and blood pressure remained unchanged between the two groups. Collagen content was unchanged and DNA/protein ratio was lower in the left ventricle of trained animals. During a 30-min period of coronary artery ligation, SWT rats demonstrated fewer ischemia-induced arrhythmias as compared to controls. The size of the zone affected by the vasal occlusion was lower in trained animals. Electrophysiological data recorded in the two-compartment bath showed a marked prolongation of action potential duration and refractory period in the SWT rat hearts. During the 15-min period of in vitro ischemia there was a global alteration of all electrophysiological parameters which did not differ between the two groups. Our data support the hypothesis that resting bradycardia and decrease in ischemic zone size may be involved in the arrhythmogenic protection observed in hypertrophied hearts of swimming rats after an acute ligation of the left coronary artery. Our results also indicate that cardiac hypertrophy, as defined by quantitative changes in cardiac mass or by the electrophysiological alterations that are related to its development, is not necessarily associated with an increased risk for the occurrence of arrhythmias.

Key words

Exercise hypertrophy ischemia arrhythmias fibrosis 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Bélichard
    • 1
  • D. Pruneau
    • 1
  • J. L. Salzmann
    • 2
  • R. Rouet
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre de recherche des laboratoires FournierDaixFrance
  2. 2.INSERM Unité 28ParisFrance
  3. 3.Faculté des sciencesCaenFrance

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