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Measurement of cardiac function using pressure–volume conductance catheter technique in mice and rats


Ventricular pressure–volume relationships have become well established as the most rigorous and comprehensive ways to assess intact heart function. Thanks to advances in miniature sensor technology, this approach has been successfully translated to small rodents, allowing for detailed characterization of cardiovascular function in genetically engineered mice, testing effects of pharmacotherapies and studying disease conditions. This method is unique for providing measures of left ventricular (LV) performance that are more specific to the heart and less affected by vascular loading conditions. Here we present descriptions and movies for procedures employing this method (anesthesia, intubation and surgical techniques, calibrations). We also provide examples of hemodynamics measurements obtained from normal mice/rats, and from animals with cardiac hypertrophy/heart failure, and describe values for various useful load-dependent and load-independent indexes of LV function obtained using different types of anesthesia. The completion of the protocol takes 1–4 h (depending on the experimental design/end points).

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Figure 1: Pressure–volume (PV) catheters and main steps of the protocol.
Figure 2: Intubation techniques.
Figure 3: Surgical procedures for LV catheterization.
Figure 4: Occlusion techniques, aortic flow measurements and jugular vein injection.
Figure 5: Representative examples of rat and mouse baseline PV loops and occlusions.
Figure 6: Representative normal and pathological mouse baseline PV loops and occlusions, and example of hemodynamic effects of drug in mice and rats.
Figure 7: Representative example of noise and effects of filtration of volume/pressure signal on PV relations.


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This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of NIH/NIAAA (to P.P.). NIH-NHLBI HL-077180; HL-59408. We are indebted to Huntly Millar and Tim Daugherty for reading the protocol and valuable suggestions and acknowledge Millar Instruments for the permission to use animations in the movies and for providing background information on the use of Millar PV systems. P.P. dedicates this protocol to his beloved mother Iren Bolfert and grandmother Ilona Kerenyi.

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Correspondence to Pál Pacher or David A Kass.

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Pacher, P., Nagayama, T., Mukhopadhyay, P. et al. Measurement of cardiac function using pressure–volume conductance catheter technique in mice and rats. Nat Protoc 3, 1422–1434 (2008).

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