Anterior leaflet (AL) stiffening during isovolumic contraction (IVC) may aid mitral valve closure. We tested the hypothesis that AL stiffening requires atrial depolarization. Ten sheep had radioopaque-marker arrays implanted in the left ventricle, mitral annulus, AL, and papillary muscle tips. Four-dimensional marker coordinates (x, y, z, and t) were obtained from biplane videofluoroscopy at baseline (control, CTRL) and during basal interventricular-septal pacing (no atrial contraction, NAC; 110-117 beats/min) to generate ventricular depolarization not preceded by atrial depolarization. Circumferential and radial stiffness values, reflecting force generation in three leaflet regions (annular, belly, and free-edge), were obtained from finite-element analysis of AL displacements in response to transleaflet pressure changes during both IVC and isovolumic relaxation (IVR). In CTRL, IVC circumferential and radial stiffness was 46 ± 6% greater than IVR stiffness in all regions (P < 0.001). In NAC, AL annular IVC stiffness decreased by 25% (P = 0.004) in the circumferential and 31% (P = 0.005) in the radial directions relative to CTRL, without affecting edge stiffness. Thus AL annular stiffening during IVC was abolished when atrial depolarization did not precede ventricular systole, in support of the hypothesis. The likely mechanism underlying AL annular stiffening during IVC is contraction of cardiac muscle that extends into the leaflet and requires atrial excitation. The AL edge has no cardiac muscle, and thus IVC AL edge stiffness was not affected by loss of atrial depolarization. These findings suggest one reason why heart block, atrial dysrhythmias, or ventricular pacing may be accompanied by mitral regurgitation or may worsen regurgitation when already present.
View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpheart.00971.2010
View details for Web of Science ID 000288942300013
View details for PubMedID 21278134