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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;51(3):371-86.

Excitation-contraction coupling in cardiac muscle revisited.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology, Medical Centre of Postgraduate Education, Warsaw, Poland.


According to the current views the direct and indispensable source of Ca2+ activating contraction is sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). Ca2+ is released from the SR when its release channels (ryanodine receptors) are activated by Ca2+ influx through the L-type Ca2+ channels (dihydropyridine receptors). In contrast, ryanodine receptors of skeletal muscles are activated by conformational changes in dihydropyridine receptors induced by sarcolemmal voltage. Ca2+ influx is not necessary for their activation. In this review the papers not quite conforming with the current views are referred to and discussed. Their results suggest that SR is not an indispensable source of contractile Ca2+ at least in some mammalian species, and that cardiac ryanodine receptors may be activated by conformational changes in dihydropyridine receptors without Ca2+ influx (like in skeletal muscle). This may be a mechanism parallel to or accessory to the Ca2+ induced release of Ca2+ (CIRC).

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