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Proceedings of the Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society Symposium: New Frontiers in Muscle Research

Does Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum influence heart rate?

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1. The present review summarizes the evidence that Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) is an important contributor to the systolic rise in [Ca2+]i (the Ca2+ transient) and influences the pacemaker firing rate.

2. We believe that the mechanism whereby [Ca2+]i influences firing rate is through the dependence of the Na+–Ca2+ exchanger on [Ca2+]i.

3. Extrusion of Ca2+ by the electrogenic Na+–Ca2+ exchanger produces an inward current that contributes to the pacemaker currents. Confocal images of Ca2+ indicate the distribution of [Ca2+]i and Ca2+ sparks add to the evidence that Ca2+ release from SR is involved in pacemaker activity.

4. The normal pathway for increased heart rate is sympathetic activation; we discuss the evidence that part of the chronotropic effect of -adrenoceptor stimulation is through the modulation of SR Ca2+ release.

5. These studies show that Ca2+ handling by the pacemaker cells makes an important contribution to the regulation of pacemaker activity.
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Keywords: heart rate; intracellular calcium; pacemaker cells; sarcoplasmic reticulum; sodium/calcium exchange

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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