Regulation of Ca2+ and electrical alternans in cardiac myocytes: role of CAMKII and repolarizing currents

American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Leonid Livshitz, Yoram Rudy


Alternans of cardiac repolarization is associated with arrhythmias and sudden death. At the cellular level, alternans involves beat-to-beat oscillation of the action potential (AP) and possibly Ca(2+) transient (CaT). Because of experimental difficulty in independently controlling the Ca(2+) and electrical subsystems, mathematical modeling provides additional insights into mechanisms and causality. Pacing protocols were conducted in a canine ventricular myocyte model with the following results: 1) CaT alternans results from refractoriness of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release system; alternation of the L-type calcium current has a negligible effect; 2) CaT-AP coupling during late AP occurs through the sodium-calcium exchanger and underlies AP duration (APD) alternans; 3) increased Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) activity extends the range of CaT and APD alternans to slower frequencies and increases alternans magnitude; its decrease suppresses CaT and APD alternans, exerting an antiarrhythmic effect; and 4) increase of the rapid delayed rectifier current (I(Kr)) also suppresses APD alternans but without suppressing CaT alternans. Thus CaMKII inhibition eliminates APD alternans by eliminating its cau...Continue Reading


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