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Cardiovasc Res. 2011 Sep 1;91(4):598-605. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvr143. Epub 2011 May 24.

Recovery of cardiac calcium release is controlled by sarcoplasmic reticulum refilling and ryanodine receptor sensitivity.

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Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave Levy Place, Box 1215, New York, NY 10029, USA.



In heart cells, the mechanisms underlying refractoriness of the elementary units of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) release, Ca(2+) sparks, remain unclear. We investigated local recovery of SR Ca(2+) release using experimental measurements and mathematical modelling.


Repeated Ca(2+) sparks were induced from individual clusters of ryanodine receptors (RyRs) in quiescent rat ventricular myocytes, and we examined how changes in RyR gating influenced the time-dependent recovery of Ca(2+) spark amplitude and triggering probability. Repeated Ca(2+) sparks from individual sites were analysed in the presence of 50 nM ryanodine with: (i) no additional agents (control); (ii) 50 µM caffeine to sensitize RyRs; (iii) 50 µM tetracaine to inhibit RyRs; or (iv) 100 nM isoproterenol to activate β-adrenergic receptors. Sensitization and inhibition of RyR clusters shortened and lengthened, respectively, the median interval between consecutive Ca(2+) sparks (caffeine 239 ms; control 280 ms; tetracaine 453 ms). Recovery of Ca(2+) spark amplitude, however, was exponential with a time constant of ∼100 ms in all cases. Isoproterenol both accelerated the recovery of Ca(2+) spark amplitude (τ = 58 ms) and shortened the median interval between Ca(2+) sparks (192 ms). The results were recapitulated by a mathematical model in which SR [Ca(2+)] depletion terminates Ca(2+) sparks, but not by an alternative model based on limited depletion and Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of RyRs.


Together, the results strongly suggest that: (i) local SR refilling controls Ca(2+) spark amplitude recovery; (ii) Ca(2+) spark triggering depends on both refilling and RyR sensitivity; and (iii) β-adrenergic stimulation influences both processes.

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