Drug-induced triggered arrhythmias in heart muscle involve oscillations of membrane potential known as delayed or early afterdepolarizations (DADs or EADs). We examined the mechanism of DADs and EADs in ferret ventricular muscle. Membrane potential, tension and aequorin luminescence were measured during exposure to elevated [Ca2+]0, strophanthidin and/or isoproterenol (to induce DADs), or cesium chloride (to induce EADs). Ryanodine (10(-9)-10(-6) M), an inhibitor of Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, rapidly suppressed DADs and triggered arrhythmias. When cytoplasmic Ca2+-buffering capacity was enhanced by loading cells with the Ca2+ chelators BAPTA or quin2, DADs were similarly inhibited, as were contractile force and aequorin luminescence. In contrast to DADs, EADs induced by Cs were not suppressed by ryanodine or by loading with intracellular Ca2+ chelators. The possibility that transsarcolemmal Ca2+ entry might produce EADs was evaluated with highly specific dihydropyridine Ca channel agonists and antagonists. Bay K8644 (100-300 nM) potentiated EADs, whereas nitrendipine (3-20 microM) abolished EADs. We conclude that DADs and DAD-related triggered arrhythmias are activated by an increase in intracellular free Ca2+ concentration, whereas EADs do not require elevated [Ca2+]i but rather arise as a direct consequence of Ca2+ entry through sarcolemmal slow Ca channels.
E Marban, S W Robinson, W G Wier