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Methods Mol Biol. 2011;689:205-14. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-950-5_12.

Imaging calcium sparks in cardiac myocytes.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, ICB, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Calcium ions play fundamental roles in many cellular processes in virtually all type of cells. The use of Ca(2+) sensitive fluorescent indicators has proven to be an indispensable tool for studying the spatio-temporal dynamics of intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)). With the aid of laser scanning confocal microscopy and new generation of Ca(2+) indicators, highly localized, short-lived Ca(2+) signals, namely Ca(2+) sparks, were revealed as elementary Ca(2+) release events during excitation-contraction coupling in cardiomyocytes. Since the discovery of Ca(2+) sparks in 1993, the demonstration of dynamic Ca(2+) micro-domains in living cardiomyocytes has revolutionized our understanding of Ca(2+)-mediated signal transduction in normal and diseased hearts. In this chapter, we have described a commonly used method for recording local and global Ca(2+) signals in cardiomyocytes using the fluorescent indicator fluo-4 acetoxymethyl (AM) and laser scanning confocal microscopy.

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