Spontaneous Ca2+ transients in rat pulmonary vein cardiomyocytes are increased in frequency and become more synchronous following electrical stimulation

Henry, Alasdair D. and MacQuaide, N. and Burton, F.L. and Rankin, A.C. and Rowan, E.G. and Drummond, R.M. (2018) Spontaneous Ca2+ transients in rat pulmonary vein cardiomyocytes are increased in frequency and become more synchronous following electrical stimulation. Cell Calcium, 76. pp. 36-47. ISSN 0143-4160

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    Abstract

    The pulmonary veins have an external sleeve of cardiomyocytes that are a widely recognised source of ectopic electrical activity that can lead to atrial fibrillation. Although the mechanisms behind this activity are currently unknown, changes in intracellular calcium (Ca2+) signalling are purported to play a role. Therefore, the intracellular Ca2+ concentration was monitored in the pulmonary vein using fluo-4 and epifluorescence microscopy. Electrical field stimulation evoked a synchronous rise in Ca2+ in neighbouring cardiomyocytes; asynchronous spontaneous Ca2+ transients between electrical stimuli were also present. Immediately following termination of electrical field stimulation at 3 Hz or greater, the frequency of the spontaneous Ca2+ transients was increased from 0.45 ± 0.06 Hz under basal conditions to between 0.59 ± 0.05 and 0.65 ± 0.06 Hz (P<0.001). Increasing the extracellular Ca2+ concentration enhanced this effect, with the frequency of spontaneous Ca2+ transients increasing from 0.45 ± 0.05 Hz to between 0.75 ± 0.06 and 0.94 ± 0.09 Hz after electrical stimulation at 3 to 9 Hz (P<0.001), and this was accompanied by a significant increase in the velocity of Ca2+ transients that manifested as waves. Moreover, in the presence of high extracellular Ca2+, the spontaneous Ca2+ transients occurred more synchronously in the initial few seconds following electrical stimulation. The ryanodine receptors, which are the source of spontaneous Ca2+ transients in pulmonary vein cardiomyocytes, were found to be arranged in a striated pattern in the cell interior, as well as along the periphery of cell. Furthermore, labelling the sarcolemma with di-4-ANEPPS showed that over 90% of pulmonary vein cardiomyocytes possessed T-tubules. These findings demonstrate that the frequency of spontaneous Ca2+ transients in the rat pulmonary vein are increased following higher rates of electrical stimulation and increasing the extracellular Ca2+ concentration.