Changes in intracellular calcium during mechanical alternans in isolated ferret ventricular muscle.
Alternans in heart is important as pulsus alternans in cardiac failure and electrophysiological alternans in myocardial ischemia. The explanation of this phenomenon is still unclear. We attempted to investigate the cellular mechanisms of alternans by measuring intracellular free calcium concentration [( Ca2+]i) with the photoprotein aequorin in isolated ferret papillary muscles. Tension and length were also recorded simultaneously. Transient mechanical alternans lasting five to 20 contractions could be reliably induced in this preparation by following a 30-second rest period with stimulation at a fast rate (2-4 Hz). Production of sustained mechanical alternans, which lasted longer than 20 contractions and could persist for several hundred contractions, required additional interventions, consisting of a lower temperature (25 degrees C), a lower external calcium concentration (1 mM), and a lower pH (6.91) than control conditions (0.33-0.5 Hz, 30 degrees C, 2 mM Ca2+, pH 7.36). Transient mechanical alternans was associated with transient in-phase alternation of aequorin light and, hence, [Ca2+]i. Sustained mechanical alternans was associated with sustained in-phase alternation of aequorin light as well as incomplete relaxation of tension. However, when muscles were switched from isometric to unloaded isotonic contraction, relaxation between stimuli was complete but contraction and the aequorin light signal continued to alternate. The addition of 10 mM caffeine or 10 microns ryanodine abolished transient and sustained mechanical alternans and also abolished the associated alternation of aequorin light. Commensurate with the action of ryanodine, which allows the sarcoplasmic reticulum to reaccumulate calcium to a limited extent after a period of rapid stimulation, sustained mechanical alternans sometimes reappeared in an attenuated form 30 to 50 contractions after the addition of ryanodine. These results demonstrate that incomplete muscle relaxation between beats need not be present for alternans to occur, and support the hypothesis that alternans is caused by intracellular calcium cycling involving the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association