Heart failure (HF) often includes changes in myocardial contractile function. This study addressed the myofibrillar basis for contractile dysfunction in failing human myocardium. Regulation of contractile properties was measured in cardiac myocyte preparations isolated from frozen, left ventricular mid-wall biopsies of donor (n = 7) and failing human hearts (n = 8). Permeabilized cardiac myocyte preparations were attached between a force transducer and a position motor, and both the Ca2+ dependence and sarcomere length (SL) dependence of force, rate of force, loaded shortening, and power output were measured at 15 ± 1°C. The myocyte preparation size was similar between groups (donor: length 148 ± 10 μm, width 21 ± 2 μm, n = 13; HF: length 131 ± 9 μm, width 23 ± 1 μm, n = 16). The maximal Ca2+-activated isometric force was also similar between groups (donor: 47 ± 4 kN⋅m–2; HF: 44 ± 5 kN⋅m–2), which implicates that previously reported force declines in multi-cellular preparations reflect, at least in part, tissue remodeling. Maximal force development rates were also similar between groups (donor: ktr = 0.60 ± 0.05 s–1; HF: ktr = 0.55 ± 0.04 s–1), and both groups exhibited similar Ca2+ activation dependence of ktr values. Human cardiac myocyte preparations exhibited a Ca2+ activation dependence of loaded shortening and power output. The peak power output normalized to isometric force (PNPO) decreased by ∼12% from maximal Ca2+ to half-maximal Ca2+ activations in both groups. Interestingly, the SL dependence of PNPO was diminished in failing myocyte preparations. During sub-maximal Ca2+ activation, a reduction in SL from ∼2.25 to ∼1.95 μm caused a ∼26% decline in PNPO in donor myocytes but only an ∼11% change in failing myocytes. These results suggest that altered length-dependent regulation of myofilament function impairs ventricular performance in failing human hearts.

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Published in Frontiers in Physiology, v. 11, article 468, p. 1-9.

© 2020 McDonald, Hanft, Robinett, Guglin and Campbell.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This work was supported by (i) the National Institutes of Health (NIH) HL57852 and a University of Missouri, School of Medicine Bridge Grant to KM; (ii) NIH TR033173, HL133359, and HL146676 to KC; and (iii) SEC Visiting Faculty Grant Program to KM and KC.

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The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author.

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00468/full#supplementary-material

The supplementary material is also available for download as the additional files listed at the end of this record.