Calcium current properties in dystrophin-deficient ventricular cardiomyocytes from aged mdx mice

Lena Rubi, Hannes Todt, Helmut Kubista, Xaver Koenig, Karlheinz Hilber
Physiological Reports 2018, 6 (1)
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), caused by mutations in the gene encoding for the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin, is linked with severe cardiac complications including cardiomyopathy development and cardiac arrhythmias. We and others recently reported that currents through L-type calcium (Ca) channels were significantly increased, and channel inactivation was reduced in dystrophin-deficient ventricular cardiomyocytes derived from the mdx mouse, the most commonly used animal model for human DMD. These gain-of-function Ca channel abnormalities may enhance the risk of Ca-dependent arrhythmias and cellular Ca overload in the dystrophic heart. All studies, which have so far investigated L-type Ca channel properties in dystrophic cardiomyocytes, have used hearts from either neonatal or young adult mdx mice as cell source. In consequence, the dimension of the Ca channel abnormalities present in the severely-diseased aged dystrophic heart has remained unknown. Here, we have studied potential abnormalities in Ca currents and intracellular Ca transients in ventricular cardiomyocytes derived from aged dystrophic mdx mice. We found that both the L-type and T-type Ca current properties of mdx cardiomyocytes were similar to those of myocytes derived from aged wild-type mice. Accordingly, Ca release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum was normal in cardiomyocytes from aged mdx mice. This suggests that, irrespective of the presence of a pronounced cardiomyopathy in aged mdx mice, Ca currents and Ca release in dystrophic cardiomyocytes are normal. Finally, our data imply that dystrophin- regulation of L-type Ca channel function in the heart is lost during aging.

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