Stretching single titin molecules from failing human hearts reveals titin's role in blunting cardiac kinetic reserve

Mei Pian Chen, Salome A. Kiduko, Nancy S. Saad, Benjamin D. Canan, Ahmet Kilic, Peter J. Mohler, Paul M.L. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Heart failure (HF) patients commonly experience symptoms primarily during elevated heart rates, as a result of physical activities or stress. A main determinant of diastolic passive tension, the elastic sarcomeric protein titin, has been shown to be associated with HF, with unresolved involvement regarding its role at different heart rates. To determine whether titin is playing a role in the heart rate (frequency-) dependent acceleration of relaxation (FDAR). W, we studied the FDAR responses in live human left ventricular cardiomyocytes and the corresponding titin-based passive tension (TPT) from failing and non-failing human hearts. Methods and results: Using atomic force, we developed a novel single-molecule force spectroscopy approach to detect TPT based on the frequency-modulated cardiac cycle. Mean TPT reduced upon an increased heart rate in non-failing human hearts, while this reduction was significantly blunted in failing human hearts. These mechanical changes in the titin distal Ig domain significantly correlated with the frequency-dependent relaxation kinetics of human cardiomyocytes obtained from the corresponding hearts. Furthermore, the data suggested that the higher the TPT, the faster the cardiomyocytes relaxed, but the lower the potential of myocytes to speed up relaxation at a higher heart rate. Such poorer FDAR response was also associated with a lesser reduction or a bigger increase in TPT upon elevated heart rate. Conclusions: Our study established a novel approach in detecting dynamic heart rate relevant tension changes physiologically on native titin domains. Using this approach, the data suggested that the regulation of kinetic reserve in cardiac relaxation and its pathological changes were associated with the intensity and dynamic changes of passive tension by titin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-137
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Frequency-dependent acceleration of relaxation
  • Heart failure
  • Single-molecule force spectroscopy
  • Titin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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