L-type but not T-type calcium current changes during postnatal development in rabbit sinoatrial node

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2001 Sep;281(3):H1252-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.2001.281.3.H1252.


Although the neonatal sinus node beats at a faster rate than the adult, when a sodium current (I(Na)) present in the newborn is blocked, the spontaneous rate is slower in neonatal myocytes than in adult myocytes. This suggests a possible functional substitution of I(Na) by another current during development. We used ruptured [T-type calcium current (I(Ca,T))] and perforated [L-type calcium current (I(Ca,L))] patch clamps to study developmental changes in calcium currents in sinus node cells from adult and newborn rabbits. I(Ca,T) density did not differ with age, and no significant differences were found in the voltage dependence of activation or inactivation. I(Ca,L) density was lower in the adult than newborn (12.1 +/- 1.4 vs. 17.6 +/- 2.5 pA/pF, P = 0.049). However, activation and inactivation midpoints were shifted in opposite directions, reducing the potential contribution during late diastolic depolarization in the newborn (activation midpoints -17.3 +/- 0.8 and -22.3 +/- 1.4 mV in the newborn and adult, respectively, P = 0.001; inactivation midpoints -33.4 +/- 1.4 and -28.3 +/- 1.7 mV for the newborn and adult, respectively, P = 0.038). Recovery of I(Ca,L) from inactivation was also slower in the newborn. The results suggest that a smaller but more negatively activating and rapidly recovering I(Ca,L) in the adult sinus node may contribute to the enhanced impulse initiation at this age in the absence of I(Na).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rabbits
  • Sinoatrial Node / growth & development
  • Sinoatrial Node / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Calcium