The timing statistics of spontaneous calcium release in cardiac myocytes.
ABSTRACT: A variety of cardiac arrhythmias are initiated by a focal excitation that disrupts the regular beating of the heart. In some cases it is known that these excitations are due to calcium (Ca) release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) via propagating subcellular Ca waves. However, it is not understood what are the physiological factors that determine the timing of these excitations at both the subcellular and tissue level. In this paper we apply analytic and numerical approaches to determine the timing statistics of spontaneous Ca release (SCR) in a simplified model of a cardiac myocyte. In particular, we compute the mean first passage time (MFPT) to SCR, in the case where SCR is initiated by spontaneous Ca sparks, and demonstrate that this quantity exhibits either an algebraic or exponential dependence on system parameters. Based on this analysis we identify the necessary requirements so that SCR occurs on a time scale comparable to the cardiac cycle. Finally, we study how SCR is synchronized across many cells in cardiac tissue, and identify a quantitative measure that determines the relative timing of SCR in an ensemble of cells. Using this approach we identify the physiological conditions so that cell-to-cell variations in the timing of SCR is small compared to the typical duration of an SCR event. We argue further that under these conditions inward currents due to SCR can summate and generate arrhythmogenic triggered excitations in cardiac tissue.
Project description:Abnormalities in intracellular calcium (Ca) cycling during Ca overload can cause triggered activity because spontaneous calcium release (SCR) activates sufficient Ca-sensitive inward currents to induce delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs). However, little is known about the mechanisms relating SCR and triggered activity on the tissue scale.Laser scanning confocal microscopy was used to measure the spatiotemporal properties of SCR within large myocyte populations in intact rat heart. Computer simulations were used to predict how these properties of SCR determine DAD magnitude. We measured the average and standard deviation of the latency distribution of SCR within a large population of myocytes in intact tissue. We found that as external [Ca] is increased, and with faster pacing rates, the average and SD of the latency distribution decreases substantially. This result demonstrates that the timing of SCR occurs with less variability as the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca load is increased, causing more sites to release Ca within each cell. We then applied a mathematical model of subcellular Ca cycling to show that a decrease in SCR variability leads to a higher DAD amplitude and is dictated by the rate of SR Ca refilling following an action potential.Our results demonstrate that the variability of the timing of SCR in a population of cells in tissue decreases with SR load and is dictated by the time course of the SR Ca content.
Project description:There is an intense interest in differentiating embryonic stem cells to engineer biological pacemakers as an alternative to electronic pacemakers for patients with cardiac pacemaker function deficiency. Embryonic stem cell-derived cardiocytes (ESCs), however, often exhibit dysrhythmic excitations. Using Ca(2+) imaging and patch-clamp techniques, we studied requirements for generation of spontaneous rhythmic action potentials (APs) in late-stage mouse ESCs. Sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of ESCs generates spontaneous, rhythmic, wavelet-like Local Ca(2+)Releases (LCRs) (inhibited by ryanodine, tetracaine, or thapsigargin). L-type Ca(2+)current (I(CaL)) induces a global Ca(2+) release (CICR), depleting the Ca(2+) content SR which resets the phases of LCR oscillators. Following a delay, SR then generates a highly synchronized spontaneous Ca(2+)release of multiple LCRs throughout the cell. The LCRs generate an inward Na(+)/Ca(2+)exchanger (NCX) current (absent in Na(+)-free solution) that ignites the next AP. Interfering with SR Ca(2+) cycling (ryanodine, caffeine, thapsigargin, cyclopiazonic acid, BAPTA-AM), NCX (Na(+)-free solution), or I(CaL) (nifedipine) results in dysrhythmic excitations or cessation of automaticity. Inhibition of cAMP/PKA signaling by a specific PKA inhibitor, PKI, decreases SR Ca(2+) loading, substantially reducing both spontaneous LCRs (number, size, and amplitude) and rhythmic AP firing. In contrast, enhancing PKA signaling by cAMP increases the LCRs (number, size, duration) and converts irregularly beating ESCs to rhythmic "pacemaker-like" cells. SR Ca(2+) loading and LCR activity could be also increased with a selective activation of SR Ca(2+) pumping by a phospholamban antibody. We conclude that SR Ca(2+) loading and spontaneous rhythmic LCRs are driven by inherent cAMP/PKA activity. I(CaL) synchronizes multiple LCR oscillators resulting in strong, partially synchronized diastolic Ca(2+) release and NCX current. Rhythmic ESC automaticity can be achieved by boosting "coupling" factors, such as cAMP/PKA signaling, that enhance interactions between SR and sarcolemma.
Project description:Intracellular Ca(2+) (Ca(i)(2+)) waves are known to cause delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs), which have been associated with arrhythmias in cardiac disease states such as heart failure, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, and digitalis toxicity. Here we show that, in addition to DADs, Ca(i)(2+) waves also have other consequences relevant to arrhythmogenesis, including subcellular spatially discordant alternans (SDA, in which the amplitude of the local Ca(i)(2+) transient alternates out of phase in different regions of the same cell), sudden repolarization changes promoting the dispersion of refractoriness, and early afterdepolarizations (EADs). Ca(i)(2+) was imaged using a charge-coupled device-based system in fluo-4 AM-loaded isolated rabbit ventricular myocytes paced at constant or incrementally increasing rates, using either field stimulation, current clamp, or action potential (AP) clamp. Ca(i)(2+) waves were induced by Bay K 8644 (50 nM) + isoproterenol (100 nM), or low temperature. When pacing was initiated during a spontaneous Ca(i)(2+) wave, SDA occurred abruptly and persisted during pacing. Similarly, during rapid pacing, SDA typically arose suddenly from spatially concordant alternans, due to an abrupt phase reversal of the subcellular Ca(i)(2+) transient in a region of the myocyte. Ca(i)(2+) waves could be visualized interspersed with AP-triggered Ca(i)(2+) transients, producing a rich variety of subcellular Ca(i)(2+) transient patterns. With free-running APs, complex Ca(i)(2+) release patterns were associated with DADs, EADs, and sudden changes in AP duration. These findings link Ca(i)(2+) waves directly to a variety of arrhythmogenic phenomena relevant to the intact heart.
Project description:Bradycardia prolongs action potential (AP) durations (APD adaptation), enhances dispersion of repolarization (DOR), and promotes tachyarrhythmias. Yet, the mechanisms responsible for enhanced DOR and tachyarrhythmias remain largely unexplored. Ca(2+) transients and APs were measured optically from Langendorff rabbit hearts at high (150 × 150 ?m(2)) or low (1.5 × 1.5 cm(2)) magnification while pacing at a physiological (120 beats/min) or a slow heart rate (SHR = 50 beats/min). Western blots and pharmacological interventions were used to elucidate the regional effects of bradycardia. As a result, bradycardia (SHR 50 beats/min) increased APDs gradually (time constant ?f?s = 48 ± 9.2 s) and caused a secondary Ca(2+) release (SCR) from the sarcoplasmic reticulum during AP plateaus, occurring at the base on average of 184.4 ± 9.7 ms after the Ca(2+) transient upstroke. In subcellular imaging, SCRs were temporally synchronous and spatially homogeneous within myocytes. In diastole, SHR elicited variable asynchronous sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release events leading to subcellular Ca(2+) waves, detectable only at high magnification. SCR was regionally heterogeneous, correlated with APD prolongation (P < 0.01, n = 5), enhanced DOR (r = 0.9277 ± 0.03, n = 7), and was gradually reversed by pacing at 120 beats/min along with APD shortening (P < 0.05, n = 5). A stabilizer of leaky ryanodine receptors (RyR2), 3-(4-benzylcyclohexyl)-1-(7-methoxy-2,3-dihydrobenzo[f][1,4]thiazepin-4(5H)-yl)propan-1-one (K201; 1 ?M), suppressed SCR and reduced APD at the base, thereby reducing DOR (P < 0.02, n = 5). Ventricular ectopy induced by bradycardia (n = 5/15) was suppressed by K201. Western blot analysis revealed spatial differences of voltage-gated L-type Ca(2+) channel protein (Cav1.2?), Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchange (NCX1), voltage-gated Na(+) channel (Nav1.5), and rabbit ether-a-go-go-related (rERG) protein [but not RyR2 or sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase 2a] that correlate with the SCR distribution and explain the molecular basis for SCR heterogeneities. In conclusion, acute bradycardia elicits synchronized subcellular SCRs of sufficient magnitude to overcome the source-sink mismatch and to promote afterdepolarizations.
Project description:Cardiac myocytes normally initiate action potentials in response to a current stimulus that depolarizes the membrane above an excitation threshold. Aberrant excitation can also occur due to spontaneous calcium (Ca2+) release (SCR) from intracellular stores after the end of a preceding action potential. SCR drives the Na+/Ca2+ exchange current inducing a "delayed afterdepolarization" that can in turn trigger an action potential if the excitation threshold is reached. This "triggered activity" is known to cause arrhythmias, but how it is initiated and terminated is not understood. Using computer simulations of a ventricular myocyte model, we show that initiation and termination are inherently random events. We determine the probability of those events from statistical measurements of the number of beats before initiation and before termination, respectively, which follow geometric distributions. Moreover, we elucidate the origin of randomness by a statistical analysis of SCR events, which do not follow a Poisson process observed in other eukaryotic cells. Due to synchronization of Ca2+ releases during the action potential upstroke, waiting times of SCR events after the upstroke are narrowly distributed, whereas SCR amplitudes follow a broad normal distribution with a width determined by fluctuations in the number of independent Ca2+ wave foci. This distribution enables us to compute the probabilities of initiation and termination of bursts of triggered activity that are maintained by a positive feedback between the action potential upstroke and SCR. Our results establish a theoretical framework for interpreting complex and varied manifestations of triggered activity relevant to cardiac arrhythmias.
Project description:Spontaneous Ca<sup>2+</sup>-release events (SCaEs) from the sarcoplasmic reticulum play crucial roles in the initiation of cardiac arrhythmias by promoting triggered activity. However, the subcellular determinants of these SCaEs remain incompletely understood. Structural differences between atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes, e.g., regarding the density of T-tubular membrane invaginations, may influence cardiomyocyte Ca<sup>2+</sup>-handling and the distribution of cardiac ryanodine receptors (RyR2) has recently been shown to undergo remodeling in atrial fibrillation. These data suggest that the subcellular distribution of Ca<sup>2+</sup>-handling proteins influences proarrhythmic Ca<sup>2+</sup>-handling abnormalities. Here, we employ computational modeling to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of variations in subcellular RyR2 and L-type Ca<sup>2+</sup>-channel distributions on Ca<sup>2+</sup>-transient properties and SCaEs in a human atrial cardiomyocyte model. We incorporate experimentally observed RyR2 expression patterns and various configurations of axial tubules in a previously published model of the human atrial cardiomyocyte. We identify an increased SCaE incidence for larger heterogeneity in RyR2 expression, in which SCaEs preferentially arise from regions of high local RyR2 expression. Furthermore, we show that the propagation of Ca<sup>2+</sup> waves is modulated by the distance between RyR2 bands, as well as the presence of experimentally observed RyR2 clusters between bands near the lateral membranes. We also show that incorporation of axial tubules in various amounts and locations reduces Ca<sup>2+</sup>-transient time to peak. Furthermore, selective hyperphosphorylation of RyR2 around axial tubules increases the number of spontaneous waves. Finally, we present a novel model of the human atrial cardiomyocyte with physiological RyR2 and L-type Ca<sup>2+</sup>-channel distributions that reproduces experimentally observed Ca<sup>2+</sup>-handling properties. Taken together, these results significantly enhance our understanding of the structure-function relationship in cardiomyocytes, identifying that RyR2 and L-type Ca<sup>2+</sup>-channel distributions have a major impact on systolic Ca<sup>2+</sup> transients and SCaEs.
Project description:RATIONALE:Cardiac myocyte contraction is caused by Ca(2+) binding to troponin C, which triggers the cross-bridge power stroke and myofilament sliding in sarcomeres. Synchronized Ca(2+) release causes whole cell contraction and is readily observable with current microscopy techniques. However, it is unknown whether localized Ca(2+) release, such as Ca(2+) sparks and waves, can cause local sarcomere contraction. Contemporary imaging methods fall short of measuring microdomain Ca(2+)-contraction coupling in live cardiac myocytes. OBJECTIVE:To develop a method for imaging sarcomere level Ca(2+)-contraction coupling in healthy and disease model cardiac myocytes. METHODS AND RESULTS:Freshly isolated cardiac myocytes were loaded with the Ca(2+)-indicator fluo-4. A confocal microscope equipped with a femtosecond-pulsed near-infrared laser was used to simultaneously excite second harmonic generation from A-bands of myofibrils and 2-photon fluorescence from fluo-4. Ca(2+) signals and sarcomere strain correlated in space and time with short delays. Furthermore, Ca(2+) sparks and waves caused contractions in subcellular microdomains, revealing a previously underappreciated role for these events in generating subcellular strain during diastole. Ca(2+) activity and sarcomere strain were also imaged in paced cardiac myocytes under mechanical load, revealing spontaneous Ca(2+) waves and correlated local contraction in pressure-overload-induced cardiomyopathy. CONCLUSIONS:Multimodal second harmonic generation 2-photon fluorescence microscopy enables the simultaneous observation of Ca(2+) release and mechanical strain at the subsarcomere level in living cardiac myocytes. The method benefits from the label-free nature of second harmonic generation, which allows A-bands to be imaged independently of T-tubule morphology and simultaneously with Ca(2+) indicators. Second harmonic generation 2-photon fluorescence imaging is widely applicable to the study of Ca(2+)-contraction coupling and mechanochemotransduction in both health and disease.
Project description:Spontaneous calcium (Ca) waves in cardiac myocytes underlie delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs) that trigger cardiac arrhythmias. How these subcellular/cellular events overcome source-sink factors in cardiac tissue to generate DADs of sufficient amplitude to trigger action potentials is not fully understood. Here, we evaluate quantitatively how factors at the subcellular scale (number of Ca wave initiation sites), cellular scale (sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca load), and tissue scale (synchrony of Ca release in populations of myocytes) determine DAD features in cardiac tissue using a combined experimental and computational modeling approach. Isolated patch-clamped rabbit ventricular myocytes loaded with Fluo-4 to image intracellular Ca were rapidly paced during exposure to elevated extracellular Ca (2.7 mmol/L) and isoproterenol (0.25 ?mol/L) to induce diastolic Ca waves and subthreshold DADs. As the number of paced beats increased from 1 to 5, SR Ca content (assessed with caffeine pulses) increased, the number of Ca wave initiation sites increased, integrated Ca transients and DADs became larger and shorter in duration, and the latency period to the onset of Ca waves shortened with reduced variance. In silico analysis using a computer model of ventricular tissue incorporating these experimental measurements revealed that whereas all of these factors promoted larger DADs with higher probability of generating triggered activity, the latency period variance and SR Ca load had the greatest influences. Therefore, incorporating quantitative experimental data into tissue level simulations reveals that increased intracellular Ca promotes DAD-mediated triggered activity in tissue predominantly by increasing both the synchrony (decreasing latency variance) of Ca waves in nearby myocytes and SR Ca load, whereas the number of Ca wave initiation sites per myocyte is less important.
Project description:To identify spontaneous Ca(2+) sparks and global Ca(2+) oscillations in microvascular smooth muscle (MVSM) cells within intact retinal arterioles and to characterize their spatiotemporal properties and physiological functions.Retinal arterioles were mechanically dispersed from freshly isolated rat retinas and loaded with Fluo-4, a Ca(2+)-sensitive dye. Changes in [Ca(2+)](i) were imaged in MVSM cells in situ by confocal scanning laser microscopy in x-y mode or line-scan mode.The x-y scans revealed discretely localized, spontaneous Ca(2+) events resembling Ca(2+) sparks and more global and prolonged Ca(2+) transients, which sometimes led to cell contraction. In line scans, Ca(2+) sparks were similar to those previously described in other types of smooth muscle, with an amplitude (DeltaF/F(0)) of 0.81 +/- 0.04 (mean +/- SE), full duration at half maximum (FDHM) of 23.62 +/- 1.15 ms, full width at half maximum (FWHM) of 1.25 +/- 0.05 mum, and frequency of 0.56 +/- 0.06 seconds(-1). Approximately 35% of sparks had a prolonged tail (>80 ms), similar to the Ca(2+)"embers" described in skeletal muscle. Sparks often summated to generate global and prolonged Ca(2+) elevations on which Ca(2+) sparks were superimposed. These sparks occurred more frequently (2.86 +/- 025 seconds(-1)) and spread farther across the cell (FWHM = 1.67 +/- 0.08 microm), but were smaller (DeltaF/F(0) = 0.69 +/- 0.04).Retinal arterioles generate Ca(2+) sparks with characteristics that vary during different phases of the spontaneous Ca(2+)-signaling cycle. Sparks summate to produce sustained Ca(2+) transients associated with contraction and thus may play an important excitatory role in initiating vessel constriction. This deserves further study, not least because Ca(2+) sparks appear to inhibit contraction in many other smooth muscle cells.
Project description:Excitation-contraction coupling in atrial cells is mediated by calcium (Ca) signaling between L-type Ca channels and Ryanodine receptors that occurs mainly at the cell boundary. This unique architecture dictates essential aspects of Ca signaling under both normal and diseased conditions. In this study we apply laser scanning confocal microscopy, along with an experimentally based computational model, to understand the Ca cycling dynamics of an atrial cell subjected to rapid pacing. Our main finding is that when an atrial cell is paced under Ca overload conditions, Ca waves can then nucleate on the cell boundary and propagate to the cell interior. These propagating Ca waves are referred to as "triggered waves" because they are initiated by L-type Ca channel openings during the action potential. These excitations are distinct from spontaneous Ca waves originating from random fluctuations of Ryanodine receptor channels, and which occur after much longer waiting times. Furthermore, we argue that the onset of these triggered waves is a highly nonlinear function of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca load. This strong nonlinearity leads to aperiodic response of Ca at rapid pacing rates that is caused by the complex interplay between paced Ca release and triggered waves. We argue further that this feature of atrial cells leads to dynamic instabilities that may underlie atrial arrhythmias. These studies will serve as a starting point to explore the nonlinear dynamics of atrial cells and will yield insights into the trigger and maintenance of atrial fibrillation.