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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):H305-15. Epub 2003 Mar 20.

Calcium dynamics in the failing heart: restoration by beta-adrenergic receptor blockade.

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Divisions of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology, The Children's Hospital and Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.


Changes in calcium (Ca2+) regulation contribute to loss of contractile function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Clinical treatment using beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists (beta-blockers) slows deterioration of cardiac function in end-stage heart failure patients; however, the effects of beta-blocker treatment on Ca2+ dynamics in the failing heart are unknown. To address this issue, tropomodulin-overexpressing transgenic (TOT) mice, which suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy, were treated with a nonselective beta-receptor blocker (5 mg. kg-1. day-1 propranolol) for 2 wk. Ca2+ dynamics in isolated cardiomyocytes of TOT mice significantly improved after treatment compared with untreated TOT mice. Frequency-dependent diastolic and Ca2+ transient amplitudes were returned to normal in propranolol-treated TOT mice and but not in untreated TOT mice. Ca2+ kinetic measurements of time to peak and time decay of the caffeine-induced Ca2+ transient to 50% relaxation were also normalized. Immunoblot analysis of untreated TOT heart samples showed a 3.6-fold reduction of sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA), whereas Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) concentrations were increased 2.6-fold relative to nontransgenic samples. Propranolol treatment of TOT mice reversed the alterations in SERCA and NCX protein levels but not potassium channels. Although restoration of Ca2+ dynamics occurred within 2 wk of beta-blockade treatment, evidence of functional improvement in cardiac contractility assessed by echocardiography took 10 wk to materialize. These results demonstrate that beta-adrenergic blockade restores Ca2+ dynamics and normalizes expression of Ca2+-handling proteins, eventually leading to improved hemodynamic function in cardiomyopathic hearts.

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