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Biophys J. 1993 Jul;65(1):196-204.

NADH fluorescence of isolated ventricular myocytes: effects of pacing, myoglobin, and oxygen supply.

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Department of Physiology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.


Endogenous fluorescence was used to measure the extent of reduction of mitochondrial NAD in individual, isolated rat cardiac myocytes. NAD reduction was determined from emitted fluorescence at 415 and 470 nm during brief epi-illumination at 365 nm. NAD reduction of resting myocytes, superfused with medium equilibrated with 95% O2/5% CO2, was 27 +/- 3% (SE) (n = 78), comparable to that in beating whole heart. Increasing intracellular Ca2+ did not significantly change NAD reduction. NAD reduction decreased reversibly to 11 +/- 1% (n = 78) in contracting myocytes electrically paced at 5 Hz for 10 min. Oxygen uptake was stimulated fivefold. There was minimal change in sarcoplasmic pH measured by fluorescence of carboxy-seminaphthorhodafluor-1. However, NAD reduction increased reversibly in response to electrically paced contractions when: (a) myoglobin was inactivated with sodium nitrite (37 +/- 7%; n = 48); or (b) cells were more densely layered and gassed with 20% O2/5% CO2 (48 +/- 3%; n = 30). We conclude that (a) the ratio NADH/NAD is decreased in well-oxygenated cells with increased work; (b) steady-state NAD reduction is increased with increased work when oxygen delivery is limited; and (c) functional myoglobin ensures an oxygen supply to the mitochondria of working cells.

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