Staircase in frog ventricular muscle. Its dependence on membrane excitation and extracellular ionic composition.
Staircase was studied in frog ventricle strip preparations where it was possible to alter extracellular ionic composition extremely rapidly in the diastolic interval between beats. Several findings strongly indicate that staircase in this tissue is a result of progressively increasing calcium influx per beat, rather than a beat-by-beat augmentation of an intracellular calcium pool which contributes to activation. After a steady state of force development, the very next beat could be graded, from approximately zero force to the steady state value attained during the staircase progression, by grading the calcium concentration of a new Ringer's solution switched to perfuse the muscle in the diastolic period immediately before that beat. Also, action potentials, elicited during the "quiescent" period in the virtual absence of contraction (in 0.025 mm calcium Ringer's solution), markedly increase force development and accelerate the staircase seen upon return to normal Ringer's solution. Staircase is augmented and accelerated by prior exposure of the muscle, during the quiescent period, to calcium-poor media and markedly suppressed by prior exposure to sodium-poor media. Tetrodotoxin, in a dose that markedly slows the action potential upstroke, has no effect on staircase. Finally, staircase is seen to occur during a train of depolarizations (by voltage clamp) to inside positive levels greater than the equilibrium potential for sodium. It is concluded that changes in intracellular sodium concentration will alter the staircase response and may contribute to its genesis, but that this cannot be the sole cause of staircase.
- Copyright © 1978 by American Heart Association