Mitochondrial Ca2+ transients in cardiac myocytes during the excitation-contraction cycle: Effects of pacing and hormonal stimulation

Hisayuki Ohata, Enrique Chacon, Samuel A. Tesfai, Ian S. Harper, Brian Herman, John J. Lemasters

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50 Scopus citations


Using laser scanning confocal microscopy, our objective was to measure mitochondrial, nuclear, and cytosolic free ionized Ca2+ in adult rabbit cardiac myocytes loaded with Ca2+ -indicating fluorophores. When myocytes were loaded with Flou 3 at 37°C, the fluorophore was loaded extensively into the cytosol and nucleus, but poorly into mitochondria, and Fluo 3 fluorescence transients after field stimulation were confined to the cytosol and nucleus. In contrast, after loading at 4°C, Fluo 3 also entered mitochondria, and large transients of mitochondrial Fluo 3 fluorescence then occurred after stimulation. Isoproterenol (1 μM) increased the magnitude of Ca2+ transients and their subsequent rate decay, an effect more marked in the cytosol and nucleus than in the mitochondria. As pacing frequency was increased from 0.5 to 2 Hz, diastolic mitochondrial Ca2+ rose markedly in the absence but not in the presence of isoproterenol. Resting Ca2+ estimated by Indo 1 ratio imaging using UV/visible laser scanning confocal microscopy was about 200 nM in all compartments. During field stimulation, Ca2+ transiently increased to 671, 522, and 487 nM in cytosol, interfibrillar mitochondria, and perinuclear mitochondria, respectively. Isoproterenol increased these respective peak values to 1280, 750, and 573 nM. These results were consistent with those obtained in Fluo 3 experiments. We conclude that rapid mitochondrial Ca2+ transients occur during excitation-contraction coupling in adult rabbit cardiac myocytes, which may be important in matching mitochondrial metabolism to myocardial ATP demand during changes in cardiac output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-222
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported, in part, by Grant HL48769 from the National Institutes of Health and Grant N00014-96-0283 from the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Chacon was the recipient of a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences through Grant T32ES07126 awarded to the Curriculum in Toxicology. Dr. Harper was the recipient of a Post-Doctoral Scholarship from the Medical Research Council of South Africa. Portions of this work were presented at the 67th Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, November 14-17, 1994, Dallas, Texas.


  • Calcium
  • Cardiac myocytes
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Fluo 3
  • Indo 1
  • Isoproterenol
  • Mitochondria


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