Original Article

Effect of osmotic stress on spontaneous calcium sparks in rat ventricular myocytes

Authors: Hong Xie, Pei-hong Zhu


Aim: To study whether the volume of cardiomyocytes and their functions would change under severe pathological conditions or osmotic stress. To clarify the role of ryanodine receptors/calcium release channels (RyRs) in the functional change, the effect of osmotic stress on spontaneous Ca2+ sparks in rat ventricular myocytes was investigated.
Methods: A laser scanning confocal microscope was used to detect spontaneous Ca2+ sparks of intact or saponin permeabilized myocytes loaded with Fluo-4. High and low tonicity was obtained by adding sucrose and reducing NaCl concentration in the external medium, respectively.
Results: In intact myocytes the frequency of Ca2+ sparks was increased and decreased by hyperosmotic (1.5 T) and hyposmotic (0.6 T) exposure, respectively. In addition, hyperosmotic exposure increased the temporal parameters and decreased the spatial parameter of Ca2+ sparks, while opposite changes occurred with hyposmotic exposure. The spatio-temporal properties of Ca2+ sparks were slightly affected by altering [K+]i (50-200 mmol/L) in saponin permeabilized myocytes in the presence of 8% dextran. It was observed that the spatio-temporal parameters of the Ca2+ sparks in permeabilized myocytes were dose-dependently altered by dextran. The propagating velocity of Ca2+ waves in intact and permeabilized myocyte was also affected by osmotic pressure or dextran.
Conclusion: The effect of osmotic stress on the frequency of spontaneous Ca2+ sparks might be ascribed to the change of myoplasmic Ca2+ and Ca2+ content in the sarcoplasmic reticulum, while the effect on the spatio-temporal properties is caused by the alteration of Ca2+ diffusion mainly resulting from the morphological change of the myocytes.

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