Calcium (Ca2+) plays a central role in cardiomyocyte excitation-contraction coupling. To ensure an optimal electrical impulse propagation and cardiac contraction, Ca2+ levels are regulated by a variety of Ca2+-handling proteins. In turn, Ca2+ modulates numerous electrophysiological processes. Accordingly, Ca2+-handling abnormalities can promote cardiac arrhythmias via various mechanisms, including the promotion of afterdepolarizations, ion-channel modulation and structural remodeling. In the last 30 years, significant improvements have been made in the computational modeling of cardiomyocyte Ca2+ handling under physiological and pathological conditions. However, numerous questions involving the Ca2+-dependent regulation of different macromolecular complexes, cross-talk between Ca2+-dependent regulatory pathways operating over a wide range of time scales, and bidirectional interactions between electrophysiology and mechanics remain to be addressed by in vitro and in silico studies. A better understanding of disease-specific Ca2+-dependent proarrhythmic mechanisms may facilitate the development of improved therapeutic strategies. In this review, we describe the fundamental mechanisms of cardiomyocyte Ca2+ handling in health and disease, and provide an overview of currently available computational models for cardiomyocyte Ca2+ handling. Finally, we discuss important uncertainties and open questions about cardiomyocyte Ca2+ handling and highlight how synergy between in vitro and in silico studies may help to answer several of these issues.
Keywords: Arrhythmia; Calcium handling; Cardiomyocyte; Computational modeling; Electrophysiology.
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