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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2008 Jan-Apr;96(1-3):421-51. Epub 2007 Aug 10.

Late sodium current in failing heart: friend or foe?

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Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, NIH, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Most cardiac Na+ channels open transiently upon membrane depolarization and then are quickly inactivated. However, some channels remain active, carrying the so-called persistent or late Na+ current (INaL) throughout the action potential (AP) plateau. Experimental data and the results of numerical modeling accumulated over the past decade show the emerging importance of this late current component for the function of both normal and failing myocardium. INaL is produced by special gating modes of the cardiac-specific Na+ channel isoform. Heart failure (HF) slows channel gating and increases INaL, but HF-specific Na+ channel isoform underlying these changes has not been found. Na+ channels represent a multi-protein complex and its activity is determined not only by the pore-forming alpha subunit but also by its auxiliary beta subunits, cytoskeleton, calmodulin, regulatory kinases and phosphatases, and trafficking proteins. Disruption of the integrity of this protein complex may lead to alterations of INaL in pathological conditions. Increased INaL and the corresponding Na+ flux in failing myocardium contribute to abnormal repolarization and an increased cell Ca2+ load. Interventions designed to correct INaL rescue normal repolarization and improve Ca2+ handling and contractility of the failing cardiomyocytes. This review considers (1) quantitative integration of INaL into the established electrophysiological and Ca2+ regulatory mechanisms in normal and failing cardiomyocytes and (2) a new therapeutic strategy utilizing a selective inhibition of INaL to target both arrhythmias and impaired contractility in HF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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