The aim of the study was to correlate intracellular Ca(2+) transients with Ca(2+) uptake and efflux characteristics of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in ventricular myocytes isolated from rabbits with left-ventricular dysfunction (LVD). Chronic (8 weeks) ligation of a coronary artery caused marked LVD in rabbits. Measurements of intracellular [Ca(2+)] were made using Fura-2 on intact, single, left-ventricular myocytes. SR Ca(2+) flux rates associated with sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase type 2 (SERCA2)-mediated uptake, ryanodine receptor type 2 (RyR2)-mediated Ca(2+) efflux and background SR Ca(2+) leak were measured in suspensions of permeabilised myocytes. Measurements on single, permeabilised myocytes were used to assess the steady-state Ca(2+) content of the SR and the characteristics of spontaneous SR Ca(2+) release. Peak systolic [Ca(2+)] was significantly lower; time-to-peak and Ca(2+) transient duration were significantly longer in LVD myocytes. SERCA2-mediated Ca(2+) uptake was reduced to approximately 50% in myocytes from the LVD group. Ruthenium red (RuR)-sensitive Ca(2+) efflux (mediated by the RyR2) was also reduced in the LVD group by approximately 50%, as was the remaining (RuR-insensitive) background Ca(2+) leak. Measurements from single, permeabilised myocytes showed a lower steady-state SR Ca(2+) content. The frequency and amplitude of spontaneous SR Ca(2+) release from LVD hearts was also reduced. Partial inhibition of SERCA2 by thapsigargin depressed both the amplitude and the frequency of spontaneous release. Partial inhibition of RyR2-mediated-Ca(2+) efflux with tetracaine enhanced spontaneous Ca(2+) release amplitude and decreased frequency. Increased background Ca(2+) leak with ionomycin decreased the frequency of spontaneous release. It is concluded that partial inhibition of SERCA2 mimics some aspects of altered SR function in LVD, but reduced RyR2 function cannot explain the other functional alterations observed. Reduced background Ca(2+) leak from the SR may compensate partly for the reduced Ca(2+) uptake capacity of the SR in the LVD group.
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