Surface: Volume relationship in cardiac myocytes studied with confocal microscopy and membrane capacitance measurements: Species-dependence and developmental effects

Hiroshi Satoh, Leanne M D Delbridge, Lothar A. Blatter, Donald M Bers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

252 Scopus citations


The quantitative analysis of the contribution of ion fluxes through membrane channels to changes of intracellular ion concentrations would benefit from the exact knowledge of the cell volume. It would allow direct correlatin of ionic current measurements with simultaneous measurements of ion concentrations in individual cells. Because of various limitations of conventional light microscopy a simple method for accurate cell volume determination is lacking. We have combined the optical sectioning capabilities of fluorescence laser scanning confocal microscopy and the whole-cell patchclamp technique to study the correlation between cell volume and membrane capacitance. Single cardiac myocytes loaded with the fluorescent dye calcein were optically sectioned to produce a series of confocal images. The volume of cardiac myocytes of three different mammalian species was determined by three-dimensional volume rendering of the confocal images. The calculated cell volumes were 30.4 ± 7.3 pi (mean ± SD) in rabbits (n = 28), 30.9 ± 9.0 pl in ferrets (n = 23), and 34.4 ± 7.0 pl in rats (n = 21), respectively. There was a positive linear correlation between membrane capacitance and cell volume in each animal species. The capacitance-volume ratios were significantly different among species (4.58 ± 0.45 pF/pl in rabbit, 5.39 ± 0.57 pF/pl in ferret, and 8.44 ± 1.35 pF/pl in rat). Furthermore, the capacitance-volume ratio was dependent on the developmental stage (8.88 ± 1.14 pF/pl in 6-month-old rats versus 6.76 ± 0.62 pF/pl in 3-month-old rats). The data suggest that the ratio of surface area:volume of cardiac myocytes undergoes significant developmental changes and differs among mammalian species. We further established that the easily measurable parameters of cell membrane capacitance or the product of cell length and width provide reliable but species-dependent estimates for the volume of individual cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1494-1504
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

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