Indexed on: 01 Nov '76Published on: 01 Nov '76Published in: Journal of Morphology
Timed pregnancies were obtained in Sprague-Dawley rats and early ultrastructural differentiation of myocardium of embryos of 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 days were investigated and compared with that of newborn. Ten-day myocardium is characterized by loosely packed cells; the cytoplasm is typified by a dearth of organelles. Both thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments become identifiable for the first time in the 10-day myocardium where the heart is pulsating but circulation is not established. These filaments are not visible in the embryos of 9-day-old myocardium. The formation of these filaments is observed to continue throughout the period covered in this investigation. Concomitant with the appearance of the myofilaments is the synthesis of Z band material. By the eleventh day of gestation and during the subsequent days there is a rapid proliferation and differentiation of most of the organelles. The myofilaments become organized into fully formed striated fibrils. Intercalated discs appear as small wavy lines on the eleventh day and become plicated in later stages and serve as cell boundaries and points of attachment for myofilaments and fibrils. There is a perceptible change in the number and morphology of mitochondria from the tenth to eleventh day and later stages of development when the heart becomes functional. Similarly, there is a rapid proliferation and differentiation of granular endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi bodies. Large quantities of free ribosomes are dispersed in the cytoplasm of 10-day myocardium; however, in later stages there is a progressive reduction in the distribution of these particles. An intimate association of ribosomes and polysomes with the developing myofibrils is discernible. The T-system and sarcoplasmic reticulum begin to appear in 11-day myocardium. The embryonic myocardium displays intense mitotic activity throughout its development and a unique feature of embryonic myocardial cells is the simultaneous occurrence of myofilament synthesis and mitotic activity within the same cells.