Rat atrial myocyte plasmalemmal caveolae in situ. Reversible experimental increases in caveolar size and in surface density of caveolar necks.
The structure, size, and surface density of the conspicuous flask-shaped structures called caveolae that are located under the plasma membrane of cardiac myocytes in intact rat atria were studied by electron microscopy after physiological perturbations designed to examine whether caveolae and/or their necks are fixed or mobile and whether the caveolar lumen is always open or can close off from the interstitial space. We showed that, in stretched and unstretched atria, horseradish peroxidase could enter or be washed out of caveolae at 37 degrees, 18 degrees, and 4 degrees C, but this finding does not rule out that caveolae and/or their necks can cycle rapidly between states closed and open to the interstitial space. Electron microscopy of thin sections revealed that exposure of atria at 37 degrees or 18 degrees C to physiological salt solutions made hypertonic by adding 150 mM sucrose or mannitol resulted in a striking enlargement of caveolar profiles within 1 to 5 minutes. Caveolar enlargement was rapidly reversible on return to control saline. After freeze fracture of atria exposed to these hypertonic solutions, quantitative analysis of electron micrographs of the fracture faces revealed statistically significant increases in cross-sectional diameter of cross-fractured caveolar necks and in mean number of caveolar necks penetrating per unit area of plasmalemmal fracture face. These results suggest that atrial myocyte caveolae are dynamic structures whose necks may be reversibly inserted into and withdrawn from the plasmalemma, possibly (but not necessarily) corresponding to states in which caveolae are, respectively, open and closed to the interstitial spaces.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association