Impaired intracellular Ca2+ dynamics in live cardiomyocytes revealed by rapid line scan confocal microscopy

Microsc Microanal. 2005 Jun;11(3):235-43. doi: 10.1017/S1431927605050488.


Altered intracellular Ca2+ dynamics are characteristically observed in cardiomyocytes from failing hearts. Studies of Ca2+ handling in myocytes predominantly use Fluo-3 AM, a visible light excitable Ca2+ chelating fluorescent dye in conjunction with rapid line-scanning confocal microscopy. However, Fluo-3 AM does not allow for traditional ratiometric determination of intracellular Ca2+ concentration and has required the use of mathematic correction factors with values obtained from separate procedures to convert Fluo-3 AM fluorescence to appropriate Ca2+ concentrations. This study describes methodology to directly measure intracellular Ca2+ levels using inactivated, Fluo-3-AM-loaded cardiomyocytes equilibrated with Ca2+ concentration standards. Titration of Ca2+ concentration exhibits a linear relationship to increasing Fluo-3 AM fluorescence intensity. Images obtained from individual myocyte confocal scans were recorded, average pixel intensity values were calculated, and a plot is generated relating the average pixel intensity to known Ca2+ concentrations. These standard plots can be used to convert transient Ca2+ fluorescence obtained with experimental cells to Ca2+ concentrations by linear regression analysis. Standards are determined on the same microscope used for acquisition of unknown Ca2+ concentrations, simplifying data interpretation and assuring accuracy of conversion values. This procedure eliminates additional equipment, ratiometric imaging, and mathematic correction factors and should be useful to investigators requiring a straightforward method for measuring Ca2+ concentrations in live cells using Ca2+-chelating dyes exhibiting variable fluorescence intensity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calibration
  • Diastole
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Systole


  • Calcium