Determination of the mechanical properties of normal and calcified human mitral chordae tendineae

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Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

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Determination of the mechanical properties of normal and calcified human mitral chordae tendineae

Casado del Prado, José Antonio | Diego Cavia, Soraya | Ferreño Blanco, Diego | Ruiz Martínez, Estela | Mendez, D. | Revuelta Soba, J.M. | Pontón, A. | Icardo, J.M. | Gutiérrez-Solana Salcedo, Federico |


The aim of the present research is to determine the influence of the calcification of human mitral valves on the mechanical properties of their marginal chordae tendineae. The study was performed on marginal chords obtained from thirteen human mitral valves, explanted at surgery, including six non-calcified, four moderately calcified and three strongly calcified valves. The mechanical response of the chords from the non-calcified and moderately calcified valves was determined by means of quasi-static tensile tests (the poor condition of the strongly calcified valves prevented them from being mechanically characterised). The material parameters that were obtained and analysed (the Young’s modulus, the secant modulus, the proportional limit stress, the ultimate strength, the strain at fracture and the density of energy stored up to maximum load) revealed noticeable differences in mechanical behaviour between the two groups of mitral chordae tendineae. Large scatter was obtained in all cases, nevertheless, considering the mean values, it was observed that the normal chords are between three and seven times stiffer or more resistant than the moderately calcified ones. On the contrary, the results obtained for the strain at fracture showed a rather different picture as, in this case, no significant differences were observed between the two families of chords. A scanning electron microscopy study was conducted in order to find out the relevant features of the calcium deposits present in the calcified chordae tendineae. In addition, the general aspects appreciated in the stress vs. strain curves were correlated with the collagen morphological evidences determined microscopically. Finally, the calcium content present in the three groups of chords was quantitatively determined through atomic absorption spectroscopy; then, the relation between the mechanical properties of normal and moderately calcified chords as a function of its calcium content was obtained. This analysis confirmed the existence of a strong correlation between calcium content and stiffness or resistance whereas the influence on the ductility seems to be negligible.

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