Origin of the background sodium current and effects of sodium removal in cultured embryonic cardiac cells.
Cardiac automaticity is partly due to a diastolic sodium current. Possible mediators of this include tetrodotoxin-sensitive "fast" channels, cesium-sensitive time-dependent pacemaker current channels, calcium-gated nonspecific channels, and electrogenic sodium-calcium exchange. We have studied the effects of abrupt sodium removal on membrane current and conductance in voltage-clamped chick embryonic myocardial cell aggregates, in the presence of various sodium flux inhibitors. Total replacement of sodium by lithium, Tris, or tetraethylammonium ions in aggregates clamped in the pacemaker range caused a brief outward current followed by a sustained net inward current. The outward current reached a peak value of 1.1 +/- 0.5 microA/cm2 at a mean latency of 5.4 +/- 1.2 sec. (n = 6; V = -70.5 +/- 8.9 mV; Tris). Conductance often decreased during the outward current. The inward current developed exponentially (t = 19 +/- 5 sec) and reached a steady state value of -1.6 +/- 0.4 microA/cm2. This current was reversed by depolarization (mean reversal potential = -13 +/- 13 mV), and was accompanied by increased conductance and spontaneous mechanical activity. Neither of the sodium-removal currents was affected by 20 microM tetrodotoxin. Cesium (up to 20 mM) had no effect on the late inward current or the mechanical activity, but decreased the early outward current by 80 +/- 12%. Manganese (25 mM), which blocks sodium-calcium exchange, abolished the late inward current and the mechanical activity. Manganese also reduced the early outward current by 27 +/- 10%. Manganese and cesium together blocked all the effects of sodium removal. We conclude that removal of extracellular sodium interrupts a cesium-sensitive "background" current, that may be related to the time-dependent pacemaker current, If. Sodium removal also causes gradual activation of a nonspecific conductance, which can ultimately depolarize the cells, and which may be gated by cytoplasmic calcium.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association