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Cardiovasc Res. 1998 Oct;40(1):23-33.

Role of cardiac chloride currents in changes in action potential characteristics and arrhythmias.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


Various types of Cl- currents have been recorded in cardiac myocytes from different regions of the heart and in different species. With few exceptions, most of these currents are not active under basal conditions, but are activated under the influence of various agonists and by physical stress. These channels are distributed nonuniformly, depending on the cell type, tissue and region of the heart. Therefore, Cl- current activation may influence membrane potential and impulse formation differently in different cells, and may play a role in arrhythmogenesis. Among these Cl- currents, the protein kinase A-activated Cl- current (I Cl.PKA), the stretch- or swelling-activated Cl- current (I Cl.SWELL) and the Ca(2+)-activated Cl current (I Cl.Ca) comprise the major anion currents that modify cardiac electrical activity. These currents exhibit outward-going rectification, or are predominantly activated at depolarized voltages and, thus, contribute significantly to shortening of the action potential duration but little to diastolic depolarization. The action potential shortening by Cl- current activation may not only perpetuate reentry by shortening the refractory period in a reentry pathway, but may also prevent the development of early afterdepolarization and triggered activity caused by the prolongation of action potentials. I Cl.Ca contributes to delayed afterdepolarization at diastolic potentials in Ca(2+)-overloaded cells. Another factor limiting the influence of Cl- currents on diastolic potentials is the presence of a predominantly opposing background K+ current, except at the nodal regions that lack these K+ channels, or under conditions of decreased K+ conductance. Therefore, the contribution of Cl- currents to the genesis of arrhythmias may depend on their association with the conductance of other ions, especially that of K+.

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