The control of intracellular calcium is central to regulation of contractile force in cardiac muscle. This review illustrates how analysis of the control of calcium requires an integrated approach in which several systems are considered. Thus, the calcium content of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) is a major determinant of the amount of Ca2+ released from the SR and the amplitude of the Ca2+ transient. The amplitude of the transient, in turn, controls Ca2+ fluxes across the sarcolemma and thence SR content. This control of SR content influences the response to maneuvers that modify, for example, the properties of the SR Ca2+ release channel or ryanodine receptor. Specifically, modulation of the open probability of the ryanodine receptor produces only transient effects on the Ca2+ transient as a result of changes of SR content. These interactions between various Ca2+ fluxes are modified by the Ca2+ buffering properties of the cell. Finally, we predict that, under some conditions, the above interactions can result in instability (such as alternans) rather than ordered control of contractility.
- Excitation-contraction coupling
- Ryanodine receptor
- Sarcoplasmic reticulum