Funded by the James L. D. and Rebecca Roser Research Fund through the Bucknell University Program for Undergraduate Research

The mechanical properties of the heart wall are important in determining its filling and pumping functions. These properties evolve during embryonic development and are affected by the mechanical environment, with drastic long-term consequences of altered fluid pressure. We were interested in studying a chick model of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) created by an in ovo left atrial ligation surgical technique. In this technique, a tiny suture is tied around the left atrial appendage, which reduces atrial volume, redistributes intracardiac blood flow, reduces left ventricular pressure and produces left ventricular hypoplasia. Using a micropipette aspiration system developed in Dr. Buffinton's lab, we measured mechanical properties of the left ventricular wall in normal chicks at embryonic days five, six and seven to provide comparison with HLHS hearts. This is challenging because the ventricle is approximately a millimeter in diameter with a 50-micron wall thickness. We also conducted preliminary work to develop the left atrial ligation technique. 

Advisor: Professor Christine Buffinton