Water molecule tracking reveals intricate muscle patterns in a tiny heart


The fibres of a mouse heart resemble a neat bird’s nest structure, but their specific orientations and interactions come together to drive blood around the body. The individual muscle strands were visualised using diffusion tensor imaging, which essentially tracks the movement of water molecules through single cells, revealing their position, size and shape. The pattern of muscles in the heart is crucial. Fibres spiral out around the left ventricle, the chamber which pumps oxygenated blood out of the heart and around the body, and curve in different directions on the inside and outside of this chamber. The result, when the fibres contract, is an upwards, slightly twisting contraction of the left side of the heart, driving the blood out into the aorta at high enough pressure to continue around the body. This image demonstrates the complexity of heart muscle structure and the sheer number of fibres involved in every beat of a tiny heart.

Image courtesy of Laurence Jackson.

Aorta: The major artery which leaves the left ventricle of the heart, carrying oxygenated blood out to the body tissues.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. V. Kathryn Evans says:

    Too glorious

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautiful, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.