Spatiotemporal relation between gap junctions and fascia adherens junctions during postnatal development of human ventricular myocardium

N S Peters, N J Severs, S M Rothery, C Lincoln, M H Yacoub, C R Green
1994 Circulation  
The growing postnatal human heart maintains electromechanical function while undergoing substantial changes of cellular topology and myocardial architecture. The capacity for growth and remodeling of ventricular myocardium in adaptation to the hemodynamic changes of early infancy later declines. This decline is associated with changes in electromechanical properties of the myocardium, which suggest that the electrical and mechanical interactions between the myocytes may change in an
more » ... t manner. Thus, reduction in the capacity for myocardial growth and adaptability may relate to age-dependent alterations in the patterns of the intercellular junctions that mediate electrical and mechanical coupling. We therefore examined the hypotheses that (1) age-dependent changes in the distribution patterns of gap junctions and fasciae adherentes, the intercellular junctions responsible, respectively, for electrical and mechanical coupling, accompany postnatal development in the human heart and that (2) such changes continue into the first few years of childhood. Further, the spatial relation between the two types of junction, for which a close association has been hypothesized as necessary, was explored. Methods and Results Ventricular myocardial gap-junction distribution was investigated in 23 pediatric surgical patients (4 weeks to 15 years old) by quantitative immunohistochemical localization of the principal cardiac gap-junctional protein, connexin43, using confocal microscopy. Immunolocalization of fascia adherens junctions by labeling N-cadherin, and correlative immunogold and standard electron microscopy, were performed in parallel. In the neonate, connexin43 gap junctions have a punctate distribution over the entire surface of the
doi:10.1161/01.cir.90.2.713 pmid:8044940 fatcat:svv7ylvqjzbk5myoar53qh6dl4