Regional distribution of ECS in contractile and conductive elements of rat and rabbit heart

K. G. Lurie, J. Dutton, P. Wiegn

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6 Scopus citations


By adaptation of recently developed quantitative microanalytic techniques, the size of the extracellular space (ECS) was measured regionally in the rat and rabbit cardiac conductive and contractile tissues. When inulin and sucrose were measured as extracellular markers in rabbit heart, the ECS in the atrioventricular (AV) node was found to be, respectively, 2.4 and 2.2 times larger than that of adjacent ventricular muscle. By use of inulin, the ECS in the rabbit His bundle was found to be 1.8 times larger than the adjacent ventricular tissue. Similarly, when inulin was used in rat, the ECS of the AV node, His bundle, right bundle branch, and right atrium was found to be, respectively, 2.5, 1.9, 1.8, and 1.2 times larger than that of left and right ventricular muscle. Similarly, significant regional differences in ECS were also observed in rat heart with sucrose. By use of glucose as an ECS marker, these results also revealed a 2.5-2.9 times larger ECS in rat and rabbit AV node compared with contractile elements. In contrast, ATP content, measured as an intracellular marker, was the same in both AV nodal and ventricular muscle tissue from both rat and rabbit. These data demonstrate that there are significant regional variations in ECS within the cardiac conduction system. Collectively, the data obtained with all extracellular markers indicate that the size of the ECS of the conduction system is markedly larger than the adjacent contractile muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H168-H176
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1 32-1
StatePublished - 1992


  • ATP
  • His bundle
  • atrioventricular node
  • cardiac conduction system
  • extracellular space
  • glucose
  • inulin
  • right bundle branch
  • sucrose

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