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International Journal of Morphology

On-line version ISSN 0717-9502


GATONGA, P; ODULA, P. O; SAIDI, H  and  MANDELA, P. Sex Variation in Occurrence of Myocardium in Human Mitral Valve Cusps. Int. J. Morphol. [online]. 2009, vol.27, n.4, pp.1217-1222. ISSN 0717-9502.

Mitral valve cusps consist mainly of connective tissue and myocardium. Connective tissue fibres within the cusps have been demonstrated to exhibit sex variations in organisation. Mitral prolapse, a disease attributed to defects within the cusps occurs more commonly in females. Sex variations in valvular myocardium however remain to be studied. Possible variations in its organisation may enhance understanding of sex differences in prevalence of mitral prolapse. The aim of this study was to determine anatomical variations of mitral valvular myocardium by sex; by mean a comparative cross-sectional study. A total of 48 (27 male and 21 female) adult heart specimens obtained during autopsy at Nairobi City and Chiromo mortuaries after ethical approval were used. Valvular cusps were then harvested. Four ­ millimetre sections were made at the area of maximum width for both anterior and posterior cusps. These were processed for paraffin-embedding and sectioning and stained with Masson's trichrome and Weigert's resorcin fuchsin with Van Gieson counterstain to demonstrate cardiac muscle, collagen and elastic fibres. Both anterior and posterior cusps demonstrated three histological laminae, that is, atrialis, fibrosa and ventricularis. Only lamina atrialis contained cardiac muscle. This lamina in males was characterised by a transversely oriented subendothelial myocardial strip while that in females contained compact longitudinal elastic fibres but no muscle. The presence of cardiac muscle in the lamina atrialis may be relatively protective against mitral valve prolapse in males compared to females.

Keywords : Mitral valve; Cusp; Structure; Variation; Sex.

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