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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2007 Jun;190(2):127-36. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

Modulation of expression of Na+/Ca2+ exchanger in heart of rat and mouse under stress.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Physiology and Genetics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.



The Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX) is a major Ca(2+) extrusion system in the plasma membrane of cardiomyocytes and an important component participating on the excitation-contraction coupling process in muscle cells. NCX1 isoform is the most abundant in the heart and is known to be changed after development of ischaemia or myocardial infarction. Objective of this study was to investigate the effect of stress factors (immobilization, cold and short-term hypoxia) on the expression of NCX1, in vivo, in the heart of rat and mouse.


We compared gene expression and protein levels of control and stressed animals. The activity of NCX was measured by the whole cell configuration using the patch clamp. We also measured physiological parameters of the heart in physiological conditions and under ischaemia-reperfusion to compare response of control and stressed hearts.


We have found that only strong stress stimulus (hypoxia, immobilization) applied repeatedly for several days elevated the NCX1 mRNA level. Cold, which is a weaker stressor that activates mainly sympathoneural, and only marginally adrenomedullary system did not affect the gene expression of NCX1. Thus, from these results it appears that hormones produced by the adrenal medulla (mainly adrenaline) might be involved in this process. To study possible mechanism of the NCX1 regulation by stress, we focused on the possible role of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical pathway in the activation of catecholamine synthesis in the adrenal medulla. We have already published that cortisol affects activity, but not the gene expression of NCX1. In this work, we used corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) knockout mice, where secretion of corticosterone and subsequently adrenaline is significantly suppressed. As no increase in NCX1 mRNA was observed in CRH knockout mice due to immobilization stress, we proposed that adrenaline (probably regulated via corticosterone) is involved in the regulation of NCX1 gene expression during stress.


The gene expression and protein levels of the NCX1 are increased by the strong stress stimuli, e.g. hypoxia, or immobilization stress. The activity of NCX1 is decreased. Based on these results, we assume that the gene expression of NCX is increased as a consequence of suppressed activity of this transport system.

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