Underlying mechanisms of symmetric calcium wave propagation in rat ventricular myocytes

Saisunder Subramanian, Sergej Viatchenko-Karpinski, Valeriy Lukyanenko, Sandor Györke, Theodore F. Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Calcium waves in heart cells are mediated by diffusion-coupled calcium-induced calcium release. The waves propagate in circular fashion. This is counterintuitive in view of the accepted ultrastructure of the cardiac myocyte. The density of calcium release sites in the transverse direction is four times higher than in the longitudinal direction. Simulations with release sites localized along Z-lines and isotropic diffusion yielded highly elliptical, nonphysiological waves. We hypothesized that subcellular organelles counteracted the higher release site density along the Z-lines by acting as transverse diffusion barriers and sites of active calcium uptake. We quantified the reduction of transverse diffusion by microinjecting cells with the nonreactive dye fluorescein. The ratio of the radial diffusion coefficient to the longitudinal coefficient was 0.39. Inhibition of mitochondrial uptake by rotenone accelerated the wave in the transverse direction. Simulations with release sites clustered at the Z-lines and a transverse diffusion coefficient 50% of the longitudinal coefficient generated waves of ellipticity 2/1 (major axis along the Z-line). Introducing additional release sites between the Z-lines at a density 20% of that on the Z-lines produced circular waves. The experiments and simulations support the presence of transverse diffusion barriers, additional uptake sites, and possibly intermediate release sites as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


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