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Int J Biol Sci 2010; 6(5):475-490. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6.475

Research Paper

Smaller cardiac cell size and reduced extra-cellular collagen might be beneficial for hearts of Ames dwarf mice

Scott A. Helms*1, Gohar Azhar*1, Chunlai Zuo1,4, Sue A. Theus4, Andrzej Bartke3, Jeanne Y. Wei1,4

1. Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Little Rock, AR, USA
2. Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Geriatric and Extended Care, Little Rock, AR, USA
3. Geriatrics Research, Department of Internal Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, USA
4. Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR, USA
* Both authors contributed equally to this paper.


Purpose: To test the hypothesis that cardiac morphologic differences between Ames dwarf and wild-type littermates might correlate with the increased longevity observed in the Ames dwarf mice.

Methods: Hearts removed from young adult (5-7 mo) and old (24-28 mo) Ames dwarf and wild-type littermates underwent histological and morphometric analysis. Measurements of cell size, nuclear size, and collagen content were made using computerized color deconvolution and particle analysis methodology.

Results: In the young mice at six months of age, mean cardiomyocyte area was 46% less in Ames dwarf than in wild-type mice (p<0.0001). Cardiomyocyte size increased with age by about 52% in the wild-type mice and 44% in the Ames dwarf mice (p<0.001). There was no difference in nuclear size of the cardiomyocytes between the young adult wild-type and Ames dwarf mice. There was an age-associated increase in the cardiomyocyte nuclear size by approximately 50% in both the Ames and wild-type mice (p<0.001). The older Ames dwarf mice had slightly larger cardiomyocyte nuclei compared to wild-type (2%, p<0.05). The collagen content of the hearts in young adult Ames dwarf mice was estimated to be 57% less compared to wild-type littermates (p<0.05). Although collagen content of both Ames dwarf and wild-type mouse hearts increased with age, there was no significant difference at 24 months.

Conclusions: In wild-type and Ames dwarf mice, nuclear size, cardiomyocyte size, and collagen content increased with advancing age. While cardiomyocyte size was much reduced in young and old Ames dwarf mice compared with wild-type, collagen content was reduced only in the young adult mice. Taken together, these findings suggest that Ames dwarf mice may receive some longevity benefit from the reduced cardiomyocyte cell size and a period of reduced collagen content in the heart during adulthood.

Keywords: Ames dwarf, collagen, hypertrophy.

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How to cite this article:
Helms SA, Azhar G, Zuo C, Theus SA, Bartke A, Wei JY. Smaller cardiac cell size and reduced extra-cellular collagen might be beneficial for hearts of Ames dwarf mice. Int J Biol Sci 2010; 6(5):475-490. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6.475. Available from