Organ-level validation of a cross-bridge cycling descriptor in a left ventricular finite element model: effects of ventricular loading on myocardial strains

SM Shavik, ST Wall, J Sundnes, D Burkhoff and LC Lee
Physiol Rep 2017;5

Although detailed cell-based descriptors of cross-bridge cycling have been applied in finite element (FE) heart models to describe ventricular mechanics, these multiscale models have never been tested rigorously to determine if these descriptors, when scaled up to the organ-level, are able to reproduce well-established organ-level physiological behaviors. To address this void, we here validate a left ventricular (LV) FE model that is driven by a cell-based cross-bridge cycling descriptor against key organ-level heart physiology. The LV FE model was coupled to a closed-loop lumped parameter circulatory model to simulate different ventricular loading conditions (preload and afterload) and contractilities. We show that our model is able to reproduce a linear end-systolic pressure volume relationship, a curvilinear end-diastolic pressure volume relationship and a linear relationship between myocardial oxygen consumption and pressure-volume area. We also show that the validated model can predict realistic LV strain-time profiles in the longitudinal, circumferential, and radial directions. The predicted strain-time profiles display key features that are consistent with those measured in humans, such as having similar peak strains, time-to-peak-strain, and a rapid change in strain during atrial contraction at late-diastole. Our model shows that the myocardial strains are sensitive to not only LV contractility, but also to the LV loading conditions, especially to a change in afterload. This result suggests that caution must be exercised when associating changes in myocardial strain with changes in LV contractility. The methodically validated multiscale model will be used in future studies to understand human heart diseases.

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