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Histological and functional assessment of a Takotsubo cardiomyopathy model established by immobilization stress.

INTRODUCTION: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC), also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, resembles acute heart failure syndrome but lacks disease-specific diagnosis and treatment strategies. TTC accounts for approximately 5-6% of all suspected cases of acute coronary syndrome in women. At present, animal models of TTC are often created by large amounts of exogenous catecholamines such as isoproterenol. However, isoproterenol injection cannot fully simulate the onset of stress-induced cardiomyopathy in humans since stress is not an instantaneous event.

METHODS: Rats were immobilized for 6 h per day for 1-14 days. To examine whether the TTC model was successful, echocardiography was employed; Elisa detected serum sympathetic activation markers; and the Open-Field test (OFT) was used to analyze behavioral changes in rats after stress. Western blot and histology were used to assess sympathetic remodeling, inflammation levels, and fibrosis; qRT-PCR was used to explore the levels of fibrosis and myocardial hypertrophy. The electrical stability of ventricular was determined by electrophysiological testing.

RESULTS: The rats showed severe stress behavior and local sympathetic remodeling of the heart after only 1 day of stress. After 3 days of stress, the induction of ventricular tachyarrhythmia increased prominently. The highest incidence of TTC in rats was at 5 days of immobilization stress. The pathological left ventricular remodeling caused by immobilization (IMO) stress includes inflammatory infiltration, fibrosis, and myocardial hypertrophy.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms the hypothesis that IMO stress can mimic Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and the various effects on the heart depending on the duration of IMO stress. We observed the highest incidence of TTC occurred after 5 days of stress. Furthermore, there is a gradual occurrence of electrical and structural remodeling as the stress duration prolongs.

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