With light and electron microscopy a comparison has been made of the morphology of ventricular (V) and Purkinje (P) fibers of the hearts of guinea pig, rabbit, cat, dog, goat, and sheep. The criteria, previously established for the rabbit heart, that V fibers are distinguished from P fibers by the respective presence and absence of transverse tubules is shown to be true for all animals studied. No evidence was found of a permanent connection between the sarcoplasmic reticulum and the extracellular space. The sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of V fibers formed couplings with the sarcolemma of a transverse tubule (interior coupling) and with the peripheral sarcolemma (peripheral coupling), whereas in P fibers the SR formed only peripheral couplings. The forms of the couplings were identical. The significance, with respect to excitation-contraction coupling, of the difference in the form of the couplings in cardiac versus skeletal muscle is discussed together with the electrophysiological implications of the differing geometries of bundles of P fibers from different animals.

This content is only available as a PDF.