Dynamic high-resolution imaging of in-vitro beating heart preparations

Beating rat heart on a customized PIHS at the TOMCAT beamline.

Static ex vivo cardiac imaging has been shown to be useful for the study of heart anatomy and structure, as well as its related alterations under the effect of CVDs [1,2,3]. Nevertheless, the heart is not a static organ but a continuously beating pump that distributes blood all throughout the body. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate not only the structural properties of the heart but also how they relate to its physiological function.

Perfused isolated heart systems (PIHS) are those techniques able to keep the heart beating after removing it from the circulatory system of the donor. This is achieved by a series of cannullae and pumps that perfuse the heart with a specific solution that provides enough nutrients and ions to keep the heart function during several hours [4,5].

The goal of this project is to implement a PIHS at the TOMCAT beamline, which will allow to dynamically study the heart, without the complications that an in vivo experiment might introduce. Such implementation includes the development of hardware for the experimental setup, as well as the design of acquisition protocols, image reconstruction and image processing, which are challenging in fast dynamical acquisitions due to reduced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). These developments will be used to investigate global heart behavior and analyse cardiomyocyte aggregates orientation evolution during the heartbeat.