Cardiomyocyte Na+ and Ca2+ mishandling drives vicious cycle involving CaMKII, ROS, and ryanodine receptors

Bence Hegyi, Risto Pekka Pölönen, Kim T. Hellgren, Christopher Y. Ko, Kenneth S Ginsburg, Julie Bossuyt, Mark Mercola, Donald M. Bers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Cardiomyocyte Na+ and Ca2+ mishandling, upregulated Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) are characteristics of various heart diseases, including heart failure (HF), long QT (LQT) syndrome, and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT). These changes may form a vicious cycle of positive feedback to promote cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmias. In HF rabbit cardiomyocytes investigated in this study, the inhibition of CaMKII, late Na+ current (INaL), and leaky ryanodine receptors (RyRs) all attenuated the prolongation and increased short-term variability (STV) of action potential duration (APD), but in age-matched controls these inhibitors had no or minimal effects. In control cardiomyocytes, we enhanced RyR leak (by low [caffeine] plus isoproterenol mimicking CPVT) which markedly increased STV and delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs). These proarrhythmic changes were significantly attenuated by both CaMKII inhibition and mitochondrial ROS scavenging, with a slight synergy with INaL inhibition. Inducing LQT by elevating INaL (by Anemone toxin II, ATX-II) caused markedly prolonged APD, increased STV, and early afterdepolarizations (EADs). Those proarrhythmic ATX-II effects were largely attenuated by mitochondrial ROS scavenging, and partially reduced by inhibition of CaMKII and pathological leaky RyRs using dantrolene. In human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) bearing LQT3 mutation SCN5A N406K, dantrolene significantly attenuated cell arrhythmias and APD prolongation. Targeting critical components of the Na+–Ca2+–CaMKII–ROS–INaL arrhythmogenic vicious cycle may exhibit important on-target and also trans-target effects (e.g., INaL and RyR inhibition can alter INaL-mediated LQT3 effects). Incorporating this vicious cycle into therapeutic strategies provides novel integrated insight for treating cardiac arrhythmias and diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Calcium
  • CaMKII
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart failure
  • ROS
  • RyR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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