Contraction and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ content in single myocytes of guinea pig heart: Effect of ryanodine

B. Lewartowski, R. G. Hansford, G. A. Langer, E. G. Lakatta

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34 Scopus citations


The relationship between the ability of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) to accumulate and retain Ca2+ and the electrically stimulated contractions (ESCs) of isolated cells from guinea pig ventricular myocardium was investigated. Caffeine contractures or rapid cooling contractures were used as a relative measure of the SR Ca2+ content. Depletion of SR Ca2+ by short exposure to caffeine (15 mM) or by prolonged rest resulted in a reduction of the amplitude of the ESCs by 83 ± 14 and 65 ± 11% (means ± SD), respectively. This result points to SR as a major source of the Ca2+ that activates contraction. However, depriving the SR of the ability to retain Ca2+ by means of prolonged (up to 75 min) exposure to 0.1 μM ryanodine (as shown by the absence of contractile response to caffeine or cooling) did not prevent an ESC of nearly normal amplitude (81 ± 24% control), albeit with a reduction contraction velocity and a time to peak contraction prolonged by 51 ± 11%. Additionally, while rest decay of ESCs was present after ryanodine treatment, the time for the ESCs to recover their steady-state amplitude was prolonged at least twofold. Thus, in contrast with the normal guinea pig cells, ESCs of the myocytes exposed to ryanodine are controlled by sarcolemmal processes. This change in the state of excitation-contraction coupling results mainly in modification of the time course of the ESCs and of the time course of the response of the cells to the change in the rate of stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1222-H1229
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 28-4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • excitation-contraction coupling
  • heart muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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