Troponin C-mediated calcium sensitization induced by levosimendan does not impair relaxation

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1995 May;25(5):794-801. doi: 10.1097/00005344-199505000-00016.


Levosimendan is a novel positive inotropic drug targeted to increase contraction force of the heart through its calcium-dependent binding to troponin C (cTnC). We investigated the calcium-sensitizing effect of levosimendan on contractile proteins as well as its positive inotropic and lusitropic effects in paced guinea pig papillary muscle. We also studied the effect on energy consumption of myosin-actin crossbridges in a myosin ATPase assay. The calcium sensitization induced by levosimendan in fibers skinned with saponin was dependent on the perforation velocity of cell membranes. Levosimendan was almost ineffective in slowly perforated fibers, but was the most potent calcium sensitizer in fibers with rapidly perforated cells. The perforation-dependent calcium sensitization was probably due to changes in phosphorylation state of contractile proteins during the slow dissection of fibers. It is noteworthy that the calcium-sensitizing effect of levosimendan was not affected by acidic pH. Levosimendan at therapeutically relevant (0.3-10 microM) concentrations markedly increased calcium sensitivity both at pH 6.7 and 7.0, being more potent than EMD 53998, pimobendan, and MCI-154. The lack of effect of levosimendan on maximum tension supports the hypothesis that levosimendan increases calcium sensitivity through its action on cTnC. Unlike EMD 53998, levosimendan did not increase myosin ATPase activity, indicating that it did not increase the cycling rate of myosinactin crossbridges. In paced papillary muscles, levosimendan induced positive inotropic effect without changing relaxation time. Thus, levosimendan was devoid of the main negative factors described for calcium sensitizers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hydrazones / pharmacology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects*
  • Myofibrils / enzymology
  • Papillary Muscles / cytology
  • Papillary Muscles / drug effects
  • Papillary Muscles / metabolism
  • Pyridazines / pharmacology*
  • Quinolines / pharmacology
  • Simendan
  • Thiadiazines / pharmacology
  • Troponin / pharmacology*
  • Troponin C
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Hydrazones
  • Pyridazines
  • Quinolines
  • Thiadiazines
  • Troponin
  • Troponin C
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • EMD 53998
  • Simendan
  • pimobendan
  • MCI 154
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Calcium