Characterization of a flow-through microcalorimeter for measuring the heat production of cardiac trabeculae

Taberner, A. J.; Hunter, I. W.; Kirton, R. S.; Nielsen, P. M. F.; Loiselle, D. S.
October 2005
Review of Scientific Instruments;Oct2005, Vol. 76 Issue 10, p104902
Academic Journal
The energy consumption of isolated cardiac trabeculae can be inferred from measurements of their heat production. Once excised from the heart, to remain viable, trabeculae require continuous superfusion with an oxygen- and nutrient-rich solution. Flow-through calorimeters enable trabeculae to be maintained in a stable and controlled environment for many hours at a time. In this paper we describe and characterize a flow-through microcalorimeter, with sensitivity in the 1 μW range, for measuring the heat output of 10 μg cardiac trabeculae. The device uses infrared-sensitive, thin-film thermopile sensors to provide a noncontact method for measuring temperature differences. The sensors are capable of resolving 5 μK temperature differences within the superfusing fluid. The microcalorimeter has a sensitivity of 2.56 V/W at a flow rate of 1 μl/s, with a time constant of approximately 3.5 s. The sensitivity and time constant are strongly dependent upon the flow rate. Predictions of a finite-element model of the calorimeter’s characteristics compare favorably with measured data over a wide range of flow rates.


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