Trabeculations of the porcine and human cardiac ventricles are different in number but similar in total volume

Bjarke Jensen*, Daniela Salvatori, Jacobine Schouten, Veronique M F Meijborg, Henrik Lauridsen, Peter Agger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


An intricate meshwork of trabeculations lines the luminal side of cardiac ventricles. Compaction, a developmental process, is thought to reduce trabeculations by adding them to the neighboring compact wall which is then enlarged. When pig, a plausible cardiac donor for xenotransplantation, is compared to human, the ventricular walls appear to have fewer trabeculations. We hypothesized the trabecular volume is proportionally smaller in pig than in human. Macroscopically, we observed in 16 pig hearts that the ventricular walls harbor few but large trabeculations. Close inspection revealed a high number of tiny trabeculations, a few hundred, within the recesses of the large trabeculations. While tiny, these were still larger than embryonic trabeculations and even when considering their number, the total tally of trabeculations in pig was much fewer than in human. Volumetrics based on high-resolution MRI of additional six pig hearts compared to six human hearts, revealed the left ventricles were not significantly differently trabeculated (21.5 versus 22.8%, respectively), and the porcine right ventricles were only slightly less trabeculated (42.1 vs 49.3%, respectively). We then analyzed volumetrically 10 pig embryonic hearts from gestational day 14-35. The trabecular and compact layer always grew, as did the intertrabecular recesses, in contrast to what compaction predicts. The proportions of the trabecular and compact layers changed substantially, nonetheless, due to differences in their growth rate rather than compaction. In conclusion, processes that affect the trabecular morphology do not necessarily affect the proportion of trabecular-to-compact myocardium and they are then distinct from compaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-454
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • development
  • evolution
  • heart


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