The properties of the low threshold Ca current (ICaT) in bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) isolated atrial cardiomyocytes were studied using the whole-cell recording patch-clamp technique and compared with those of the high threshold Ca current (ICaL). In 91% of atrial cells we observed both ICaT and ICaL when collagenase and trypsin were used to dissociate the cells. But when pronase was used, only 30% of the cells exhibited ICaT. ICaT was never found in ventricular cells. ICaT could be investigated more easily when ICaL was inhibited by Cd ions (50 microM). Its kinetics were unchanged by substituting Ba for Ca, or in the presence of high concentrations of Ba. Both ICaT and ICaL exhibited reduced inactivation after high depolarizing prepulses. ICaT was found to be sensitive to dihydropyridines: 1 microM nifedipine decreased this current while 1 microM BAY K 8644 increased it; this occurred without significant variations in the steady-state inactivation curve. ICaT was more sensitive than ICaL to alpha 1-adrenergic and P2-purinergic stimulations, while ICaL was more sensitive to beta-adrenergic stimulation. Isoproterenol was still able to increase ICaT in the presence of high intracellular cAMP. Both currents were increased by 1 microM ouabain (although ICaL only transiently) and decreased by 10 microM ouabain. It is concluded that the two types of Ca channels can be observed in bullfrog atrial cells and that they are specifically altered by pharmacological agents and neuromediators. This may have implications for cardiac behavior.

This content is only available as a PDF.