Role of Ca2+ channel in cardiac excitation-contraction coupling in the rat: evidence from Ca2+ transients and contraction

J Physiol. 1991 Jan;432:283-312. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1991.sp018385.


1. Optical methods were used to measure simultaneously unloaded cell shortening and intracellular Ca2+ transients in whole-cell voltage clamped rat ventricular myocytes. Red light (greater than 670 nm) was used to measure cell shortening with a linear photodiode array. The dyes Fura-2 (Kd = 140 nM) and Mag-Fura-2 (Kd = 44 microM) were used as Ca2+ indicators with fluorescence excitation at 340 and 410 nm and emission at 510 nm. 2. Repeated measurements at 6 s intervals as 0.4 mM-Fura-2 diffused into the cell from the tip of the voltage clamp pipette showed no decrease in the rate of rise and peak value of the intracellular Ca2+ transient and only a small suppression of cell shortening, suggesting that the molecular mechanisms regulating the Ca2+ release were not significantly altered by the buffering capacity of the Fura-2. 3. Experiments in which the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) was depleted of Ca2+ either by exposure to caffeine or by repeated brief (20 ms) voltage clamp depolarizations confirm that the SR is the major source of activator Ca2+. 4. Mag-Fura-2 (1 or 5 mM) was used to register the initial rapid development of the [Ca2+]i transient but the later time course of the Ca2+ transients measured with this dye was obscured by motion artifacts resulting from cell shortening. 5. Both Fura-2 and Mag-Fura-2 showed that depolarization to 0 mV from a holding potential of -80 mV resulted in a [Ca2+]i transient which developed with a delay of 3-9 ms and approached its peak value in an additional 8-19 ms. Both Ca2+ indicators also showed that the Ca2+ transient approached its peak value more slowly as the clamped membrane potential was made increasingly more positive. 6. The voltage dependencies of the Ca2+ signal (Fura-2) and cell shortening were both bell-shaped and were qualitatively similar to the voltage dependence of Ca2+ current simultaneously measured. This was observed with holding potentials of both -40 and -80 mV. 7. Comparison of the temporal relation of the Ca2+ current, ICa, and intracellular Ca2+ transient (Fura-2) and cell shortening at different membrane potentials showed that Ca2+ transient measured 25 ms into the depolarization correlated closely to the integral of the Ca2+ current measured prior to this time. Cell shortening, on the other hand, peaked about 100 ms later and correlated with measurements of the Ca2+ activity at the later time.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fura-2
  • Heart Ventricles / cytology
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Calcium Channels
  • Caffeine
  • Calcium
  • Fura-2