Cellular and subcellular heterogeneity of [Ca2+]i in single heart cells revealed by fura-2

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Science  16 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4786, pp. 325-328
DOI: 10.1126/science.3798114


Digital imaging of calcium indicator signals (fura-2 fluorescence) from single cardiac cells has revealed different subcellular patterns of cytoplasmic calcium ion concentration ([Ca2+]i) that are associated with different types of cellular appearance and behavior. In any population of enzymatically isolated rat heart cells, there are mechanically quiescent cells in which [Ca2+]i is spatially uniform, constant over time, and relatively low; spontaneously contracting cells, which have an increased [Ca2+]i, but in which the spatial uniformity of [Ca2+]i is interrupted periodically by spontaneous propagating waves of high [Ca2+]i; and cells that are hypercontracted (rounded up) and that have higher levels of [Ca2+]i than the other two types. The observed cellular and subcellular heterogeneity of [Ca2+]i in isolated cells indicates that experiments performed on suspensions of cells should be interpreted with caution. The spontaneous [Ca2+]i fluctuations previously observed without spatial resolution in multicellular preparations may actually be inhomogeneous at the subcellular level.