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J Physiol. 2011 Mar 15;589(Pt 6):1367-82. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.203984. Epub 2011 Jan 17.

Impaired β-adrenergic responsiveness accentuates dysfunctional excitation-contraction coupling in an ovine model of tachypacing-induced heart failure.

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Unit of Cardiac Physiology, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9NT, UK.


Reduced inotropic responsiveness is characteristic of heart failure (HF). This study determined the cellular Ca2+ homeostatic and molecular mechanisms causing the blunted β-adrenergic (β-AR) response in HF.We induced HF by tachypacing in sheep; intracellular Ca2+ concentration was measured in voltage-clamped ventricular myocytes. In HF, Ca2+ transient amplitude and peak L-type Ca2+ current (ICa-L) were reduced (to 70 ± 11% and 50 ± 3.7% of control, respectively, P <0.05) whereas sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ content was unchanged. β-AR stimulation with isoprenaline (ISO) increased Ca2+ transient amplitude, ICa-L and SRCa2+ content in both cell types; however, the response of HF cells was markedly diminished (P <0.05).Western blotting revealed an increase in protein phosphatase levels (PP1, 158 ± 17% and PP2A, 188 ± 34% of control, P <0.05) and reduced phosphorylation of phospholamban in HF (Ser16, 30 ± 10% and Thr17, 41 ± 15% of control, P <0.05). The β-AR receptor kinase GRK-2 was also increased in HF (173 ± 38% of control, P <0.05). In HF, activation of adenylyl cyclase with forskolin rescued the Ca2+ transient, SR Ca2+ content and SR Ca2+ uptake rate to the same levels as control cells in ISO. In conclusion, the reduced responsiveness of the myocardium to β-AR agonists in HF probably arises as a consequence of impaired phosphorylation of key intracellular proteins responsible for regulating the SR Ca2+ content and therefore failure of the systolic Ca2+ transient to increase appropriately during β-AR stimulation.

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