Alterations in action potential profile enhance excitation-contraction coupling in rat cardiac myocytes

Rajan Sah, Rafael J. Ramirez, Roger Kaprielian, Peter H. Backx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Action potential (AP) prolongation typically occurs in heart disease due to reductions in transient outward potassium currents (Ito), and is associated with increased Ca2+ transients. We investigated the underlying mechanisms responsible for enhanced Ca2+ transients in normal isolated rat ventricular myocytes in response to the AP changes that occur following myocardial infarction. 2. Normal myocytes stimulated with a train of long post-myocardial infarction (MI) APs showed a 2.2-fold elevation of the peak Ca2+ transient and a 2.7-fold augmentation of fractional cell shortening, relative to myocytes stimulated with a short control AP. 3. The steady-state Ca2+ load of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) was increased 2.0-fold when myocytes were stimulated with trains of long post-MI APs (111 ± 21.6 μmol l-1) compared with short control APs (56 ± 7.2 μmol l-1). 4. Under conditions of equal SR Ca2+ load, long post-MI APs still resulted in a 1.7-fold increase in peak [Ca2+]i and a 3.8-fold increase in fractional cell shortening relative to short control APs, establishing that changes in the triggering of SR Ca2+ release are largely responsible for elevated Ca2+ transients following AP prolongation. 5. Fractional SR Ca2+ release calculated from the measured SR Ca2+ load and the integrated SR Ca2+ fluxes was 24 ± 3 and 11 ± 2% following post-MI and control APs, respectively. 6. The fractional release (FR) of Ca2+ from the SR divided by the integrated L-type Ca2+ flux (FR/∫FCa, L) was increased 1.2-fold by post-MI APs compared with control APs. Similar increases in excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling gains were observed establishing enhanced E-C coupling efficiency. 7. Our findings demonstrate that AP prolongation alone can markedly enhance E-C coupling in normal myocytes through increases in the L-type Ca2+ current (ICa, L) trigger combined with modest enhancements in Ca2+ release efficiency. We propose that such changes in AP profile in diseased myocardium may contribute significantly to alterations in E-C coupling independent of other biochemical or genetic changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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