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In bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology

RATIONALE : Right ventricular (RV) contractile dysfunction commonly occurs and worsens outcomes in heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction and pulmonary hypertension (HFrEF-PH). However, such dysfunction often goes undetected by standard clinical RV indices, raising concerns that they may not reflect aspects of underlying myocyte dysfunction.

OBJECTIVE : To determine components of myocyte contractile depression in HFrEF-PH, identify those reflected by clinical RV indices, and elucidate their underlying biophysical mechanisms.

METHODS AND RESULTS : Resting, calcium- and load-dependent mechanics were measured in permeabilized RV cardiomyocytes isolated from explanted hearts from 23 HFrEF-PH patients undergoing cardiac transplantation and 9 organ-donor controls. Unsupervised machine learning using myocyte mechanical data with the highest variance yielded two HFrEF-PH subgroups that in turn mapped to patients with depressed (RVd) or compensated (RVc) clinical RV function. This correspondence was driven by reduced calcium-activated isometric tension in RVd, while surprisingly, many other major myocyte contractile measures including peak power, maximum unloaded shortening velocity, and myocyte active stiffness were similarly depressed in both groups. Similar results were obtained when subgroups were first defined by clinical indices, and then myocyte mechanical properties in each group compared. To test the role of thick-filament defects, myofibrillar structure was assessed by X-ray diffraction of muscle fibers. This revealed more myosin heads associated with the thick filament backbone in RVd but not RVc, as compared to controls. This corresponded to reduced myosin ATP turnover in RVd myocytes, indicating less myosin in a cross-bridge ready disordered-relaxed (DRX) state. Altering DRX proportion (%DRX) affected peak calcium-activated tension in the patient groups differently, depending on their basal %DRX, highlighting potential roles for precision-guided therapeutics. Lastly, increasing myocyte preload (sarcomere length) increased %DRX 1.5-fold in controls but only 1.2-fold in both HFrEF-PH groups, revealing a novel mechanism for reduced myocyte active stiffness and by extension Frank-Starling reserve in human HF.

CONCLUSIONS : While there are multiple RV myocyte contractile deficits In HFrEF-PH, clinical indices primarily detect reduced isometric calcium-stimulated force related to deficits in basal and recruitable %DRX myosin. Our results support use of therapies to increase %DRX and enhance length-dependent recruitment of DRX myosin heads in such patients.

Jani Vivek, Aslam M Imran, Fenwick Axel J, Ma Weikang, Gong Henry, Milburn Gregory, Nissen Devin, Salazar Ilton Cubero, Hanselman Olivia, Mukherjee Monica, Halushka Marc K, Margulies Kenneth B, Campbell Kenneth, Irving Thomas C, Kass David A, Hsu Steven