Calcium cycling proteins and force-frequency relationship in heart failure

G. Hasenfuss, H. Reinecke, R. Studer, B. Pieske, M. Meyer, H. Drexler, H. Just

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Myocardial function, intracellular calcium and levels of calcium cycling proteins were analyzed in failing and nonfailing human myocardium. Myocardial function was evaluated by the isometric force-frequency relation, and intracellular calcium was studied by aequorin light emission. When stimulation frequency was increased above 30 min-1 there was a continuous increase in isometric tension development in the nonfailing myocardium. In contrast, in failing myocardium, frequency potentiation of contractile force was blunted or inverse. As a consequence, at higher rates of stimulation, twitch tension was reduced significantly in failing compared to nonfailing human myocardium. Aequorin measurements indicated that the contractile deficit in the failing myocardium at higher rates of stimulation is associated with decreased free intracellular calcium concentration. Western blot analysis indicated that in the failing myocardium protein levels of SR-Ca2+ ATPase are significantly reduced and protein levels of Na+-Ca2+ exchanger are significantly increased. Levels of phospholamban are slightly reduced in the failing myocardium, and ryanodine receptor and calsequestrin protein levels are unchanged. There was a close positive correlation between the protein levels of SR-Ca2+-ATPase and frequency potentiation of contractile force. From these data, we conclude that in failing compared to nonfailing human myocardium 1) force-frequency relation is blunted or inverse. 2) Frequency-dependence of contractile force is closely correlated with frequency-dependence of intracellular calcium cycling. 3) Protein levels of SR-Ca2+-ATPase may determine frequency-dependence of sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release. 4) Calcium elimination by an increased number of Na+-Ca2+-exchanger molecules may be a compensatory mechanism to prevent diastolic calcium accumulation in failing myocardium with a reduced number of SR calcium pumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology, Supplement
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 9 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium cycling
  • Excitation-contraction coupling
  • Force-frequency relation
  • Heart failure

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