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Cardiovasc Res. 1996 Feb;31 Spec No:E52-60.

Developmental cardiac electrophysiology recent advances in cellular physiology.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Los Angeles 90095, USA.


This overview of cardiac ion channel development does not suggest any particular theme underlying the expression or regulation of all channel subtypes. Calcium and potassium channels generally exhibit increased expression in more mature hearts. However, this increase in channel number or activity as determined under voltage clamp conditions may not be translated into increased activity in vivo. Concomitant changes in other physiological factors such as local intracellular Ca2+ accumulation, increased resting membrane potential and decreased heart rate in mature heart may inhibit or augment channel activity. Na(+)-Ca2+ exchange activity appears to decrease with development, possibly reflecting its decreasing role in both systolic and diastolic Ca2+ regulation. Na+ channel activity follows a middle course, exhibiting little change in channel conductance. The reported shift in the voltage dependence of channel inactivation toward more negative membrane potentials may reflect a concomitant shift in the resting membrane potential in mature heart. However, this change is in the direction opposite to that reported for L-type Ca2+ channel inactivation, suggesting that the regulation of these channels is not modulated by a common factor such as membrane surface charge. A detailed characterization of multiple channel subtypes in mature myocardium has resulted in significant advances in models of the cardiac action potential and excitation-contraction coupling. Recently, developmental changes in ion channel physiology have been described, setting the stage for a comparable elucidation of the ontogeny of the cardiac action potential. Ca2+ and K+ channel currents generally become more prominent with development. In contrast, developmental changes in Na+ currents are less dramatic and Na(+)-Ca2+ exchange currents appear to decrease with age. These changes may, in part, be reflected by the increasingly important role of transsarcolemmal Ca2+ influx in triggering Ca2+ release from the SR in mature heart as compared to its direct role of providing Ca2+ for cell contraction in immature heart. These developmental changes in ion channel expression and function are likely to have a significant effect on the generation of the action potential in individual myocytes. Developmental changes in the characteristics of the action potential may then have a major influence on the initiation, propagation and termination of autonomic, triggered, and re-entrant arrhythmias. Progress in this area provides an essential foundation for the evolution of a systematic approach to pediatric arrhythmias comparable to that under development for mature heart [3].

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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