Integrative analysis of calcium signalling in cardiac muscle.
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Front Biosci (April 2002)

This review discusses the control of the amplitude of the cardiac systolic Ca transient. The Ca transient arises largely from release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). Release is triggered by calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) whereby the entry of a small amount of Ca on the L-type Ca current, "the trigger", results in the release of much more Ca from the SR. There are three potential control points: (1) the Ca content of the SR; (2) the properties of the SR Ca release channel or ryanodine receptor (RyR); (3) the amplitude of the L-type Ca current. The data reviewed show that the Ca content of the SR has pronounced effects on systolic Ca$^2+$i and, reciprocally, the amount of Ca released from the SR affects sarcolemmal Ca fluxes thereby äutoregulating" SR content. Modulation of the ryanodine receptor has no steady-state effect due to compensating changes of SR Ca content. An increase of the L-type Ca current results in an abrupt increase of systolic Ca$^2+$i with little change of SR content. This is because of a coordinated increase of both the trigger and loading function of the Ca current. These results emphasise the importance of considering all aspects of Ca handling in the context of SR Ca release and thus the regulation of the systolic Ca transient and contraction in cardiac muscle.
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