Most of the calcium that activates contraction in the heart comes from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and it is therefore essential to control the SR Ca content. SR Ca content reflects the balance between uptake (via the SR Ca-ATPase, SERCA) and release, largely via the ryanodine receptor (RyR). Unwanted changes of SR Ca are prevented because, for example, an increase of SR Ca content increases the amplitude of the systolic Ca transient and this, in turn, results in increased loss of Ca from and decreased Ca entry into the cell thereby restoring cell and SR Ca towards control levels. We discuss the parameters that affect the steady level of SR Ca and how these may change in heart failure. Finally, we discuss disordered Ca regulation with particular emphasis on the condition of alternans where successive heartbeats alternate in amplitude. This behaviour can be explained by excessive feedback gain in the processes controlling SR Ca. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Cardiac muscle
- Sarcoplasmic reticulum