Na-Ca exchange and the trigger for sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca release: studies in adult rabbit ventricular myocytes.
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Biophys. J. 75 (1): 359-71 (July 1998)

The importance of Na-Ca exchange as a trigger for sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca release remains controversial. Therefore, we measured whole-cell Ca currents (ICa), Na-Ca exchange currents (INaCa), cellular contractions, and intracellular Ca transients in adult rabbit cardiac myocytes. We found that changing pipette Na concentration markedly affected the relationship between cell shortening (or Ca transients) and voltage, but did not affect the Ca current-voltage relationship. We then inhibited Na-Ca exchange and varied SR content (by changing the number of conditioning pulses before each test pulse). Regardless of SR Ca content, the relationship between contraction and voltage was bell-shaped in the absence of Na-Ca exchange. Next, we rapidly and completely blocked ICa by applying nifedipine to cells. Cellular shortening was variably reduced in the presence of nifedipine. The component of shortening blocked by nifedipine had a bell-shaped relationship with voltage, whereas the "nifedipine-insensitive" component of contraction increased with voltage. With the SR disabled (ryanodine and thapsigargin pretreatment), ICa could initiate late-peaking contractions that were approximately 70\% of control amplitude. In contrast, nifedipine-insensitive contractions could not be elicited in the presence of ryanodine and thapsigargin. Finally, we recorded reverse Na-Ca exchange currents that were activated by membrane depolarization. The estimated sarcolemmal Ca flux occurring by Na-Ca exchange (during voltage clamp steps to +30 mV) was approximately 10-fold less than that occurring by ICa. Therefore, Na-Ca exchange alone is unlikely to raise cytosolic Ca concentration enough to directly activate the myofilaments. We conclude that reverse Na-Ca exchange can trigger SR Ca release. Because of the sigmoidal relationship between the open probability of the SR Ca release channel and pCa, the effects of ICa and INaCa may not sum in a linear fashion. Rather, the two triggers may act synergistically in the modulation of SR release.
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