Effect of acetylstrophanthidin on twitches, microscopic tension fluctuations and cooling contractures in rabbit ventricle

Donald M Bers, J. H B Bridge

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24 Scopus citations


1. We have measured the effect of the aglycone acetylstrophanthidin (ACS) on twitches, cooling contractures and microscopic tension fluctuations in rabbit ventricular muscle. 2. Both developed twitches and cooling contractures are strengthened by applications of ACS in the range 1-4 μM. This positive inotropy averages 150-160% of control (zero ACS) in both twitches and cooling contractures. Cooling contracture magnitude is assumed to reflect the availability of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ for contraction (Bridge, 1986). We infer that ACS increases the availability of SR Ca2+ by enlarging SR Ca2+ stores and this may contribute to the positive inotropy. 3. However, twitches appear to increase at lower concentrations of ACS than those required to increase cooling contractures. This observation suggests that the initial ACS inotropy may be achieved without an increase in SR Ca2+. Furthermore, low doses of ACS produce positive inotropy in the presence of 10.0 mM-caffeine where cooling contractures are abolished. This also suggests that positive inotropy occurs in the absence of SR Ca2+ accumulation. 4. Rest decay of both cooling contractures and twitches is significantly slowed in 4 and 8 μM-ACS. We infer that ACS slows the rate of decline of SR Ca2+ available for contraction by slowing the rate at which Ca2+ is lost from the cell during rest. This suggests that ACS produces a net slowing of Ca2+ efflux during activity which in the absence of altered Ca2+ influx will result in net Ca2+ gain and presumably enlarged SR Ca2+ stores. 5. Increasing the concentration of ACS (6-10 μM) results in a decline in developed twitch tension, total tension and an increase in rest tension. Measurement of microscopic tension fluctuations indicates that as developed twitches decline, the root mean square (r.m.s.) of the tension fluctuations increases in a reciprocal manner. This supports the suggestion of others that the decline in developed twitch tension and the appearance of tension fluctuations are causally related. 6. Although ACS (6-10 μM) causes a decline in twitch tension, rapid cooling contractures remain elevated. We suggest that in the presence of Ca2+ oscillations the magnitude of cooling contractures reflects the sum of cytosolic Ca2+ and Ca2+ that is available for release. If microscopic tension fluctuations do represent Ca2+ moving between the SR and cytosol the sum of SR and cytosolic Ca2+ and hence cooling contracture might not decline. Thus a net loss of Ca2+ available for contraction (i.e. cytoplasmic + SR) is unlikely to be principally responsible for the decline in developed force at higher ACS. A decrease in the fraction of SR Ca2+ released upon excitation may, however, contribute to this decline in force. 7. Large Ca2+ oscillations (as observed experimentally by Eisner & Valdeolmillos, 1986) could contribute to a decline in developed twitch tension by reducing the SR Ca2+ release associated with action potential-induced contractions. Other factors (e.g. series compliance) must also be invoked to damp the resulting microscopic tension fluctuations to the experimentally observed magnitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physiology
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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