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Role of Sodium-Calcium Exchanger in Modulating the Action Potential of Ventricular Myocytes From Normal and Failing Hearts

  • Antonis A. Armoundas
  • Ion A. Hobai
  • Gordon F. Tomaselli
  • Raimond L. Winslow
  • Brian O’Rourke
Publication Date
Jun 12, 2003


Increased Na+-Ca2+ exchange (NCX) activity in heart failure and hypertrophy may compensate for depressed sarcoplasmic reticular Ca2+ uptake, provide inotropic support through reverse-mode Ca2+ entry, and/or deplete intracellular Ca2+ stores. NCX is electrogenic and depends on Na+ and Ca2+ transmembrane gradients, making it difficult to predict its effect on the action potential (AP). Here, we examine the effect of [Na+]i on the AP in myocytes from normal and pacing-induced failing canine hearts and estimate the direction of the NCX driving force using simultaneously recorded APs and Ca2+ transients. AP duration shortened with increasing [Na+]i and was correlated with a shift in the reversal point of the NCX driving force. At [Na+]i ≥ 10 mmol/L, outward NCX current during the plateau facilitated repolarization, whereas at 5 mmol/L [Na+]i, NCX had a depolarizing effect, confirmed by partially inhibiting NCX with exchange inhibitory peptide. Exchange inhibitory peptide shortened the AP duration at 5 mmol/L [Na+]i and prolonged it at [Na+]i ≥ 10 mmol/L. With K+ currents blocked, total membrane current was outward during the late plateau of an AP clamp at 10 mmol/L [Na+]i and became inward close to the predicted reversal point for the NCX driving force. The results were reproduced using a computer model. These results indicate that NCX plays an important role in shaping the AP of the canine myocyte, helping it to repolarize at high [Na+]i, especially in the failing heart, but contributing a depolarizing, potentially arrhythmogenic, influence at low [Na+]i.

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