Retrograde heart perfusion: the Langendorff technique of isolated heart perfusion.

Research paper by Robert M RM Bell, Mihaela M MM Mocanu, Derek M DM Yellon

Indexed on: 10 Mar '11Published on: 10 Mar '11Published in: Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology


In the late 19th century, a number of investigators were working on perfecting isolated heart model, but it was Oscar Langendorff who, in 1895, pioneered the isolated perfused mammalian heart. Since that time, the Langendorff preparation has evolved and provided a wealth of data underpinning our understanding of the fundamental physiology of the heart: its contractile function, coronary blood flow regulation and cardiac metabolism. In more recent times, the procedure has been used to probe pathophysiology of ischaemia/reperfusion and disease states, and with the dawn of molecular biology and genetic manipulation, the Langendorff perfused heart has remained a stalwart tool in the study of the impact upon the physiology of the heart by pharmacological inhibitors and targeted deletion or up-regulation of genes and their impact upon intracellular signalling and adaption to clinically relevant stressful stimuli. We present here the basic structure of the Langendorff system and the fundamental experimental rules which warrant a viable heart preparation. In addition, we discuss the use of the isolated retrograde perfused heart in the model of ischaemia-reperfusion injury ex-vivo, and its applicability to other areas of study. The Langendorff perfusion apparatus is highly adaptable and this is reflected not only in the procedure's longevity but also in the number of different applications to which it has been turned.