While a diversity of cell types and distribution within the sinoatrial node and cell-cell interactions add complexity to a complete elucidation of the heart's pacemaker function, it has become clear that cyclic variation of submembrane [Ca2+] and activation of the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger during diastolic depolarization (DD) act in concert with ion channels to confer on sinoatrial node cells (SANCs) their status of dominance with respect to pacemaker function. Studies using confocal microscopy indicate that subsarcolemmal Ca2+ release via ryanodine receptors occurs not only in response to the action potential (AP) upstroke, but also during the DD, and this is augmented by beta-adrenergic receptor (beta-AR) stimulation. Spontaneous APs simulated by mathematical SANC models beat at a faster rate when this subsarcolemmal Ca2+ waveform measured under beta-AR stimulation is introduced into the modeling scheme. Thus, in future investigation of pacemaker functioning in health, disease, and disease therapies the "bar ought to be raised" to embrace the impact of cyclic variation in submembrane [Ca2+] on pacemaker function. The full text of this article is available at http://www.circresaha.org.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine