Atrial compliance determines the nature of passive atrial stretch and plasma atrial natriuretic factor in the conscious dog
STUDY OBJECTIVE: The aim was to measure changes in atrial wall function over a wide range of atrial filling pressures in order to determine the relationship governing the atrial stretch in vivo. DESIGN: Acute graded haemorrhage, 30 ml.kg-1, was used to reduce atrial stretch, and volume loading with 1000 ml saline was used to increase atrial stretch. EXPERIMENTAL MATERIAL: Awake mongrel dogs (n = 6) were instrumented for the measurement of left atrial appendage pressure and diameter; awake mongrel dogs (n = 4) were instrumented for measurement of left and right atrial appendage pressures and diameters. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: During haemorrhage, left atrial pressure and diameter decreased progressively, and plasma atrial natriuretic factor fell from 44 (SEM 10) to 25(5) pg.ml-1 (p less than 0.05). Calculated left atrial wall stress and minute wall stress fell by 80(5.8)% and 72(15)% (p less than 0.05 from control). During volume expansion, however, atrial wall stress and minute wall stress markedly increased and plasma atrial natriuretic factor increased by more than 500%. The relationship between left atrial pressure and diameter was a typical exponential compliance curve during volume loading and haemorrhage for atrial systole, the A wave, and for atrial diastole, the V wave. During volume expansion right atrial pressure and diameter were also related exponentially. Left atrial passive stretch, as measured by V wave wall stress, increased more than right atrial stretch during volume loading. Changes in atrial filling in conscious dogs therefore result in typical exponential changes in atrial pressure and diameter in both atria. Plasma atrial natriuretic factor only increased at high filling pressures. The relationship between passive V wave minute wall stress and plasma atrial natriuretic factor also fitted an exponential curve. Thus when atrial filling was reduced, plasma atrial natriuretic factor fell by only 50% from control, while when atrial filling increased over the physiological range (up to 15 mm Hg left atrial pressure), it rose only to 100 pg.ml-1. CONCLUSIONS: Very high atrial appendage wall stresses are required to increase plasma atrial natriuretic factor markedly. Atrial stretch and the release of atrial natriuretic factor are non-linearly related. The stimulus for atrial natriuretic factor release is related to the exponential changes in atrial function due to the underlying atrial compliance relationship.