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The functional architecture of skeletal compared to cardiac musculature: Myocyte orientation, lamellar unit morphology, and the helical ventricular myocardial band

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Bob Anderson


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How the cardiomyocytes are aggregated within the heart walls remains contentious. We still do not fully understand how the end-to-end longitudinal myocytic chains are arranged, nor the true extent and shape of the lamellar units they aggregate to form. In this article, we show that an understanding of the complex arrangement of cardiac musculature requires knowledge of three-dimensional myocyte orientation (helical and intrusion angle), and appreciation of myocyte packing within the connective tissue matrix. We show how visualization and segmentation of high-resolution three-dimensional image data can accurately identify the morphology and orientation of the myocytic chains, and the lamellar units. Some maintain that the ventricles can be unwrapped in the form of a helical ventricular myocardial band, that is, as a compartmentalized band with selective regional innervation and deformation, and a defined origin and insertion like most skeletal muscles. In contrast to the simpler interpretation of the helical ventricular myocardial band, we provide insight as to how the complex myocytic chains, the heterogeneous lamellar units, and connective tissue matrix form an interconnected meshwork, which facilitates the complex internal deformations of the ventricular wall. We highlight the dangers of disregarding the intruding cardiomyocytes. Preparation of the band destroys intruding myocytic chains, and thus disregards the functional implications of the antagonistic auxotonic forces they produce. We conclude that the ventricular myocardium is not analogous to skeletal muscle, but is a complex three-dimensional meshwork, with a heterogeneous branching lamellar architecture. Clin. Anat. 29:316-332, 2016. (c) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stephenson RS, Agger P, Lunkenheimer PP, Zhao JC, Smerup M, Niederer P, Anderson RH, Jarvis JC

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Anatomy

Year: 2016

Volume: 29

Issue: 3

Pages: 316-332

Print publication date: 01/04/2016

Online publication date: 23/11/2015

Acceptance date: 15/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0897-3806

ISSN (electronic): 1098-2353



DOI: 10.1002/ca.22661