Electrical excitability of the heart in a Chondrostei fish, the Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii).

Thomas Eliot Haworth, Jaakko Haverinen, Holly A Shiels, Matti Vornanen

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    Sturgeon (family Acipenseridae) are regarded as living fossils due to their ancient origin and exceptionally slow evolution. To extend our knowledge of fish cardiac excitability to a Chondrostei fish, we examined electrophysiological phenotype of the Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) heart with recordings of epicardial ECG, intracellular action potentials (APs), and sarcolemmal ion currents. Epicardial ECG of A. baerii had the typical waveform of the vertebrate ECG with Q-T interval (average duration of ventricular AP) of 650 ± 30 ms and an intrinsic heart rate of 45.5 ± 5 beats min(-1) at 20°C. Similar to other fish species, atrial AP was shorter in duration (402 ± 33 ms) than ventricular AP (585 ± 40) (P <0.05) at 20°C. Densities of atrial and ventricular Na(+) currents were similar (-47.6 ± 4.5 and -53.2 ± 5.1 pA/pF, respectively) and close to the typical values of teleost hearts. Two major K(+) currents, the inward rectifier K(+) current (IK1), and the delayed rectifier K(+) current (IKr) were found under basal conditions in sturgeon cardiomyocytes. The atrial IKr (3.3 ± 0.2 pA/pF) was about twice as large as the ventricular IKr (1.3 ± 0.4 pA/pF) (P <0.05) conforming to the typical pattern of teleost cardiac IKr. Divergent from other fishes, the ventricular IK1 was remarkably small (-2.5 ± 0.07 pA/pF) and not different from that of the atrial myocytes (-1.9 ± 0.06 pA/pF) (P > 0.05). Two ligand-gated K(+) currents were also found: ACh-activated inward rectifier (IKACh) was present only in atrial cells, while ATP-sensitive K(+) current (IKATP) was activated by a mitochondrial blocker, CCCP, in both atrial and ventricular cells. The most striking difference to other fishes appeared in Ca(2+) currents (ICa). In atrial myocytes, ICa was predominated by nickel-sensitive and nifedipine-resistant T-type ICa, while ventricular myocytes had mainly nifedipine-sensitive and nickel-resistant L-type ICa. ICaT/ICaL ratio of the sturgeon atrial myocytes (2.42) is the highest value ever measured for a vertebrate species. In ventricular myocytes, ICaT/ICaL ratio was 0.09. With the exception of the large atrial ICaT and small ventricular IK1, electrical excitability of A. baerii heart is similar to that of teleost hearts.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


    • action potential
    • electrocardiogram
    • fish heart
    • ion currents


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