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J Physiol Sci. 2013 Mar;63(2):133-46. doi: 10.1007/s12576-012-0248-1. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

The mechanism of increased postnatal heart rate and sinoatrial node pacemaker activity in mice.

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Department of Cell Physiology, Akita University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-1-1 Hondo, Akita 010-8543, Japan.


Heart rate (HR) of mammalian species changes postnatally, i.e., HR of large animals including humans decreases, while HR in small animals such as mice and rats increases. To clarify cellular mechanisms underlying the postnatal HR changes, we performed in vivo HR measurement and electrophysiological analysis on sinoatrial node (SAN) cells in mice. The in vivo HR was ~320 beats min(-1) (bpm) immediately after birth, and increased with age to ~690 bpm at postnatal day 14. Under blockage of autonomic nervous systems, HR remained constant until postnatal day 5 and then increased day by day. The spontaneous beating rate of SAN preparation showed a similar postnatal change. The density of the L-type Ca(2+) current (LCC) was smaller in neonatal SAN cells than in adult cells, accompanied by a positive shift of voltage-dependent activation. Thus, the postnatal increase in HR is caused by both the increased sympathetic influence and the intrinsic activity of SAN cells. The different conductance and kinetics of LCC may be involved in the postnatal increase in pacemaker activity.

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