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Open Access Publications from the University of California

T-tubule disruption promotes calcium alternans in failing ventricular myocytes: Mechanistic insights from computational modeling

  • Author(s): Nivala, M
  • Song, Z
  • Weiss, JN
  • Qu, Z
  • et al.

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. In heart failure (HF), T-tubule (TT) disruption contributes to dyssynchronous calcium (Ca) release and impaired contraction, but its role in arrhythmogenesis remains unclear. In this study, we investigate the effects of TT disruption and other HF remodeling factors on Ca alternans in ventricular myocytes using computer modeling. A ventricular myocyte model with detailed spatiotemporal Ca cycling modeled by a coupled Ca release unit (CRU) network was used, in which the L-type Ca channels and the ryanodine receptor (RyR) channels were simulated by random Markov transitions. TT disruption, which removes the L-type Ca channels from the associated CRUs, results in "orphaned" RyR clusters and thus provides increased opportunity for spark-induced Ca sparks to occur. This effect combined with other HF remodeling factors promoted alternans by two distinct mechanisms: 1) for normal sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca ATPase (SERCA) activity, alternans was caused by both CRU refractoriness and coupling. The increased opportunity for spark-induced sparks by TT disruption combined with the enhanced CRU coupling by Ca elevation in the presence or absence of increased RyR leakiness facilitated spark synchronization on alternate beats to promote Ca alternans; 2) for down-regulated SERCA, alternans was caused by the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca load-dependent mechanism, independent of CRU refractoriness. TT disruption and increased RyR leakiness shifted and steepened the SR Ca release-load relationship, which combines with down-regulated SERCA to promote Ca alternans. In conclusion, the mechanisms of Ca alternans for normal and down-regulated SERCA are different, and TT disruption promotes Ca alternans by both mechanisms, which may contribute to alternans at different stages of HF.

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