Molecular changes after left ventricular assist device support for heart failure

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93 Scopus citations


Heart failure is associated with remodeling that consists of adverse cellular, structural, and functional changes in the myocardium. Until recently, this was thought to be unidirectional, progressive, and irreversible. However, irreversibility has been shown to be incorrect because complete or partial reversal can occur that can be marked after myocardial unloading with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Patients with chronic advanced heart failure can show near-normalization of nearly all structural abnormalities of the myocardium or reverse remodeling after LVAD support. However, reverse remodeling does not always equate with clinical recovery. The molecular changes occurring after LVAD support are reviewed, both those demonstrated with LVAD unloading alone in patients bridged to transplantation and those occurring in the myocardium of patients who have recovered enough myocardial function to have the device removed. Reverse remodeling may be attributable to a reversal of the pathological mechanisms that occur in remodeling or the generation of new pathways. A reduction in cell size occurs after LVAD unloading, which does not necessarily correlate with improved cardiac function. However, some of the changes in both the cardiac myocyte and the matrix after LVAD support are specific to myocardial recovery. In the myocyte, increases in the cytoskeletal proteins and improvements in the Ca handling pathway seem to be specifically associated with myocardial recovery. Changes in the matrix are complex, but excessive scarring appears to limit the ability for recovery, and the degree of fibrosis in the myocardium at the time of implantation may predict the ability to recover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-791
Number of pages15
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • heart failure
  • left ventricular assist device
  • remodeling
  • reverse remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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