Langendorff’s isolated perfused rat heart technique: a review


  • Rahmath Unnisa Lateef Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Abeer A. Al-Masri Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Asma Mohammed Alyahya Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia



Langendorff’s technique, Isolated perfused heart, Retrograde perfusion, Ischemia-reperfusion injury, Mammalian heart


The Langendorff’s isolated perfused small mammalian heart represents the optimal compromise in the conflict between the quantity and quality of data that can be acquired from an experimental model versus its clinical relevance, especially in relation to ischemia-reperfusion injury. We analyzed the important recent, as well as standard older articles to highlight the importance of Langendorff’s isolated heart technique using the rat as an experimental animal model. The retrograde perfusion of isolated rat heart preparation is the most commonly used technique in cardiovascular research experiments with many advantages. The longevity of this preparation is one of the main advantages. From the moment an ex vivo preparation is established, it starts to deteriorate and the rate will depend on number of factors such as the skill of the operator, the species of animal, age, initial heart rate, choice and composition of the perfusion fluid, flow rate, presence or absence of various drugs, preload pressure, and the temperature at which the studies are carried out. Recently, various techniques and variables measured have undergone modifications. This review article has attempted to address many of the issues, developments, and applications which will assist investigators to make the best possible use of this experimental model using the rat.


Langendorff O. Untersuchungen am uberlebenden Saugethierherzen. Pflugers Arch Furdie Gesamte Physiol des Menschen and der Tiere. 1895;61:291-332.

Bell RM, Mocanu MM, Yellon DM. Retrograde heart perfusion: the Langendorff technique of isolated heart perfusion. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2011;50(6):940-50.

Hearse DJ, Sutherland FJ. Experimental models for the study of cardiovascular function and disease. Pharmacol Res. 2000;41(6):597-603.

Mersmann J, Latsch K, Habeck K, Zacharowski K. Measure for measure-determination of infarct size in murine models of myocardial ischemia and reperfusion: a systematic review. Shock. 2011;35(5):449-55.

Anderson PG, Digerness SB, Sklar JL, Boor PJ. Use of the isolated perfused heart for evaluation of cardiac toxicity. Toxicol Pathol. 1990;18:497-510.

Baker KE, Curtis MJ. Left regional cardiac perfusion in vitro with platelet-activating factor, norepinephrine and K reveals that ischaemic arrhythmias are caused by independent effects of endogenous “mediators” facilitated by interactions, and moderated by paradoxical antagonism. Br J Pharmacol. 2004;142(2):352-66.

Skrzypiec-Spring M, Grotthus B, Szelag A, Schulz R. Isolated heart perfusion according to Langendorff- – still viable in the new millennium. J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2007;55(2):113-26.

Schechter MA, Southerland KW, Feger BJ, Linder D Jr, Ali AA, Njoroge L, et al. An isolated working heart system for large animal models. J Vis Exp. 2014;(88).

Sutherland FJ, Hearse DJ. The isolated blood and perfusion fluid perfused heart. Pharmacol Res. 2000;41(6):613-27.

Reichelt ME, Willems L, Hack BA, Peart JN, Headrick JP. Cardiac and coronary function in the Langendorff-perfused mouse heart model. Exp Physiol. 2009;94(1):54-70.

Csonka C, Kupai K, Kocsis GF, Novák G, Fekete V, Bencsik P, et al. Measurement of myocardial infarct size in preclinical studies. J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2010;61:163-70.

Clements-Jewery H, Hearse DJ, Curtis MJ. Independent contribution of catecholamines to arrhythmogenesis during evolving infarction in the isolated rat heart. Br J Pharmacol. 2002;135(3):807-15.

Hill AJ, Laske TG, Coles JA Jr, Sigg DC, Skadsberg ND, Vincent SA, et al. In vitro studies of human hearts. Ann Thorac Surg. 2005;79(1):168-77.

Hockel K, Trabold R, Schöller K, Török E, Plesnila N. Impact of anesthesia on pathophysiology and mortality following subarachnoid hemorrhage in rats. Exp Transl Stroke Med. 2012;4(1):5.

Sambandam N, Abrahani MA, St Pierre E, Al-Atar O, Cam MC, Rodrigues B. Localization of lipoprotein lipase in the diabetic heart: regulation by acute changes in insulin. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1999;19(6):1526-34.

Neely JR, Liebermeister H, Battersby EJ, Morgan HE. Effect of pressure development on oxygen consumption by isolated rat heart. Am J Physiol. 1967;212(4):804-14.

Turvey SE, Allen DG. Changes in myoplasmic sodium concentration during exposure to lactate in perfused rat heart. Cardiovasc Res. 1994;28(7):987-93.

Hendrikx M, Mubagwa K, Verdonck F, Overloop K, Van Hecke P, Vanstapel F, et al. New Na()-H exchange inhibitor HOE 694 improves postischemic function and high-energy phosphate resynthesis and reduces Ca2 overload in isolated perfused rabbit heart. Circulation. 1994;89(6):2787-98.

Thandroyen FT. Protective action of calcium channel antagonist agents against ventricular fibrillation in the isolated perfused rat heart. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1982;14(1):21-32.

Curtis MJ. Characterisation, utilisation and clinical relevance of isolated perfused heart models of ischaemia-induced ventricular fibrillation. Cardiovasc Res. 1998;39(1):194 215.

Beckett PR. The isolated perfused heart preparation: two suggested improvements. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1970;22(11):818-22.

Monfredi O, Lyashkov AE, Johnsen AB, Inada S, Schneider H, Wang R, et al. Biophysical characterization of the underappreciated and important relationship between heart rate variability and heart rate. Hypertension. 2014;64(6):1334-43.

Salavastru CI, Cârmaciu R. The role of the Gregg phenomenon in cardiac performance. Rom J Physiol. 1998;35(3-4):253-7.

Dankelman J, Stassen HG, Spaan JA. Interaction between Gregg’s phenomenon and coronary flow control: a model study. Med Biol Eng Comput. 1999;37(6):742-9.

Sill B, Hammer PE, Cowan DB. Optical mapping of Langendorff-perfused rat hearts. J Vis Exp. 2009;pii: 1138.

Southworth R, Blackburn SC, Davey KA, Sharland GK, Garlick PB. The low oxygen-carrying capacity of Krebs buffer causes a doubling in ventricular wall thickness in the isolated heart. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005;83(2):174-82.

Benzi RH, Lerch R. Dissociation between contractile function and oxidative metabolism in postischemic myocardium. Attenuation by ruthenium red administered during reperfusion. Circ Res. 1992;71(3):567-76.

Bergmann SR, Clark RE, Sobel BE. An improved isolated heart preparation for external assessment of myocardial metabolism. Am J Physiol. 1979;236(4):H644-61.

Clements-Jewery H, Hearse DJ, Curtis MJ. The isolated blood-perfused rat heart: an inappropriate model for the study of ischaemia- and infarction-related ventricular fibrillation. Br J Pharmacol. 2002;137(7):1089-99.

Pasini E, Solfrini R, Bachetti T, Marino M, Bernocchi P, Visioli F, et al. The blood perfused isolated heart: characterization of the model. Basic Res Cardiol. 1999;94(3):215-22.

de Leiris J, Harding DP, Pestre S. The isolated perfused rat heart: a model for studying myocardial hypoxia or ischaemia. Basic Res Cardiol. 1984;79(3):313-21.

Rees SA, Curtis MJ. Specific IK1 blockade: a new antiarrhythmic mechanism? Effect of RP58866 on ventricular arrhythmias in rat, rabbit, and primate. Circulation. 1993;87(6):1979-89.

Valentin JP, Hoffmann P, De Clerck F, Hammond TG, Hondeghem L. Review of the predictive value of the Langendorff heart model (Screenit system) in assessing the proarrhythmic potential of drugs. J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2004;49(3):171-81.

Ferrera R, Benhabbouche S, Bopassa JC, Li B, Ovize M. One hour reperfusion is enough to assess function and infarct size with TTC staining in Langendorff rat model. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2009;23(4):327-31.

Bohl S, Medway DJ, Schulz-Menger J, Schneider JE, Neubauer S, Lygate CA. Refined approach for quantification of in vivo ischemia-reperfusion injury in the mouse heart. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009;297(6):H2054-8.

Liao R, Podesser BK, Lim CC. Review the continuing evolution of the Langendorff and ejecting murine heart: new advances in cardiac phenotyping Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012;303(2):H156-7.




How to Cite

Lateef, R. U., Al-Masri, A. A., & Alyahya, A. M. (2017). Langendorff’s isolated perfused rat heart technique: a review. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 4(6), 1314–1322.



Review Articles