Adenine nucleotide metabolism and contractile dysfunction in heart failure – Biochemical aspects, animal experiments, and human studies

  • V. Regitz
  • E. Fleck
Conference paper


In myocardial hypertrophy and heart failure a series of adaptational changes occur - some multiplying contractile units, others slowing shortening velocity and increasing economy of contraction. The demonstration of energy-saving mechanisms in heart failure has prompted further investigations of energy providing and utilizing metabolic pathways. The use of myocardial ATP as a substrate occurs mainly at the myosin-ATPase and at the Ca-ATPase of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. As the Michaelis constant of both enzymes for ATP is in the micromolar (µM) range, whereas cellular ATP content is about 5000 µM, these enzymes are not controlled by the availability of ATP as a substrate. In experimental heart failure in large animals, normal or reduced creatine phosphate levels (in most cases together with normal adenine nucleotides) have been described. Reduced creatine phosphate is found in models with increased oxygen consumption, and creatine phosphate may buffer the ATP pool in these models. In human heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy, where resting oxygen consumption per unit mass and lactate extraction are normal in most patients, normal adenine nucleotides, creatine phosphate, and mitochondrial function have been described in the initial studies. These results have been challenged by one study showing decreased ATP levels in dilated cardiomyopathy, correlating with the decrease in ejection fraction. However, only ATP has been measured in this study, whereas total adenine nucleotides may be a more suitable parameter. Recently published results have again demonstrated normal ATP and total adenine nucleotides in human heart failure. In the same patients, significantly decreased myocardial norepinephrine was measured, indicating that metabolic changes had occurred in these hearts, but were independent of adenine nucleotides. In conclusion, the fact that normal myocardial adenine nucleotide levels are found in heart failure, whereas other major biochemical changes are simultaneously present, indicates that reduced myocardial energy production is not the reason for contractile dysfunction.


Myocardial energy metabolism adenine nucleotides heart failure dilated cardiomyopathy 


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Copyright information

© Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag GmbH & Co.KG, Darmstadt 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Regitz
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Fleck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine and CardiologyGerman Heart Institute BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine and CardiologyGermany

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