Sarcolemmal sodium/calcium exchange activity was examined in individual chick embryonic myocardial cell aggregates that were loaded with quin 2. The baseline [Ca2+]i was 68 +/- 4 nM (n = 29). Abrupt superfusion with sodium-free lithium solution produced a fourfold increase in steady-state [Ca2+]i to 290 +/- 19 nM, which was reversible upon sodium restitution. Other methods of increasing [Ca2+]i such as KCl-depolarization or caffeine produced a dose-dependent increase in quin 2 fluorescence, accompanied by sustained contracture. The [Ca2+]i increase in zero sodium was linear, and its half-time (t1/2) of 15.1 +/- 0.1 s was similar to that of the sodium-free contracture (t1/2 = 14.4 +/- 0.5 s) under the same conditions. The sodium-dependent [Ca2+]i increase was not significantly greater when potassium served as the sodium substitute instead of lithium. This suggests that sodium/calcium exchange has little voltage dependence in this situation. However, in aggregates pretreated with ouabain (2.5 microM), the [Ca2+]i increase was almost threefold greater with potassium than with lithium (P less than 0.007). Ouabain therefore potentiated the effect of membrane potential on calcium influx. We propose that elevation of [Na2+]i is a prerequisite for voltage dependence of the sodium/calcium exchange under the conditions studied. Sodium loading will then drastically increase calcium influx during the action potential while inducing an outward membrane current that could accelerate repolarization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas