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Modulation of L-type Ca(2+) current (I(Ca,L)) by H(+) ions in cardiac myocytes is controversial, with widely discrepant responses reported. The pH sensitivity of I(Ca,L) was investigated (whole cell voltage clamp) while measuring intracellular Ca(2+) (Ca(2+)(i)) or pH(i) (epifluorescence microscopy) in rabbit and guinea pig ventricular myocytes. Selectively reducing extracellular or intracellular pH (pH(o) 6.5 and pH(i) 6.7) had opposite effects on I(Ca,L) gating, shifting the steady-state activation and inactivation curves to the right and left, respectively, along the voltage axis. At low pH(o), this decreased I(Ca,L), whereas at low pH(i), it increased I(Ca,L) at clamp potentials negative to 0 mV, although the current decreased at more positive potentials. When Ca(2+)(i) was buffered with BAPTA, the stimulatory effect of low pH(i) was even more marked, with essentially no inhibition. We conclude that extracellular H(+) ions inhibit whereas intracellular H(+) ions can stimulate I(Ca,L). Low pH(i) and pH(o) effects on I(Ca,L) were additive, tending to cancel when appropriately combined. They persisted after inhibition of calmodulin kinase II (with KN-93). Effects are consistent with H(+) ion screening of fixed negative charge at the sarcolemma, with additional channel block by H(+)(o) and Ca(2+)(i). Action potential duration (APD) was also strongly H(+) sensitive, being shortened by low pH(o), but lengthened by low pH(i), caused mainly by H(+)-induced changes in late Ca(2+) entry through the L-type Ca(2+) channel. Kinetic analyses of pH-sensitive channel gating, when combined with whole cell modeling, successfully predicted the APD changes, plus many of the accompanying changes in Ca(2+) signaling. We conclude that the pH(i)-versus-pH(o) control of I(Ca,L) will exert a major influence on electrical and Ca(2+)-dependent signaling during acid-base disturbances in the heart.

Original publication




Journal article


J Gen Physiol

Publication Date





537 - 559


Animals, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Cells, Cultured, Chelating Agents, Egtazic Acid, Guinea Pigs, Heart Ventricles, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Myocytes, Cardiac, Rabbits, Sarcoplasmic Reticulum