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Caffeine-induced depolarization in amphibian skeletal muscle fibres: role of Na+/Ca2+ exchange and K+ release

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Caffeine (4 mM) produces a depolarization of about 10 mV in frog muscle fibres (Leptodactylus ocellatus). The aim of this work was to study the mechanisms of this effect. An approximately threefold rise in membrane resistance [Cl-free (SO42–) medium] substantially increased, and both Na+-free medium and Ni2+ (5 mM) reduced, the caffeine-induced depolarization. In voltage-clamped (–60 mV) short fibres from lumbricalis muscle of the toad (Buffo arenarum), caffeine generated an inward current of 4.13 ± 0.48 A cm–2. This caffeine-induced current was reduced by 60% in Na+-free medium, 44% in the presence of 5 mMamiloride and 48% by 5 mMNi2+, suggesting that the activation of the Na+–Ca2+ exchanger in its forward mode may play a role in the observed electrical effects of the drug. Caffeine also produced a marked release of K+. Net K+ efflux increased from 3.5 ± 0.2 (control) to 22.1 ± 2.3 pmol s–1 cm–2 (caffeine). It is shown that in the presence of the drug, [K+] in the lumen of the T tubules may well increase to levels which could produce, in part, both the observed depolarization and the caffeine-induced current under voltage clamp conditions. The caffeine-induced K+ efflux was not reduced by 5 mMNi2+. At a holding potential of 30 mV the caffeine-induced current was reversed (outward) and roughly halved by 5 mMNi2+. The Ni2+-sensitive fraction of the caffeine-induced current, assumed to represent the Na+–Ca2+ exchanger current, had an estimated reversal potential close to 12 mV ([Na+]o=115 mM; [Ca2+]o=1 mM). In conclusion, the depolarizing effect of caffeine described here would be produced by two mechanisms: (a) an inward current generated by the activation of the Na+–Ca2+ exchanger in its forward mode, and (b) the rise of the external [K+] in restricted spaces like the T tubules.
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Keywords: caffeine; depolarization; external potassium; skeletal muscle; sodium/calcium

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Investigaciones Médicas Alfredo Lanari, Facultad de Medicina, UBA, Donato Alvarez, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2: Centro de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, UNLP, La Plata, Argentina

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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