Extracellular calcium transients were monitored with 2 raM tetramethylmurexide at low calcium (250 µM total, 130 µM free), and action potentials were monitored together with developed tension at normal calcium (1.3 mM) during the production and decay of post-stimulatory potentiation in rabbit left atrial strips. At normal calcium, the contractile potentiation produced by a brief burst of 4 Hz stimulation is lost in three to five post-stimulatory excitations, which correlate with a negative staircase of the late action potential. At low calcium, stimulation at 4 Hz for 3-8 s results in a net extracellular calcium depletion of 5-15 µM. At the subsequent potentiated contraction (145 s rest), total extracellular calcium increases by 4-8 µM. The contractile response at a second excitation is greatly suppressed and results in little or no further calcium shift; the sequence can be repeated immediately thereafter. Reducing external sodium to 60 mM (sucrose replacement) enhances post-rest contractions, supresses the late action potential, nearly eliminates loss of contractility and net calcium efflux at post-rest excitations, and markedly reduces extracellular calcium depletion during rapid stimulation. 4-Aminopyridine (1 mM) markedly suppresses the rapid early repolarization of this preparation at post-rest excitations and the loss of contractility at post-rest stimulation from the rested state; during a post-stimulatory potentiation sequence at low calcium, replenishment of extracellular calcium takes several post-stimulatory excitations. Ryanodine (10 nM to 5 µM) abolishes the post-stimulatory contraction at rest periods of >5 s. If the initial repolarization is rapid, ryanodine suppresses the late action potential, calcium efflux during quiescence is greatly accelerated, and subsequent excitations do not result in an accumulation of extracellular calcium. A positive staircase of the early action potential correlates with the magnitude of net extracellular calcium depletion. These findings demonstrate that negative contractile staircases at post-rest stimulation correspond closely to an accumulation of extracellular calcium at activation and a negative staircase of the late action potential; the correlation of these three events suggests that electrogenic sodium-calcium exchange is the common underlying mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas