Positive inotropic agents that increase the sensitivity of myofilaments to calcium have recently been described (Kitada et al., 1987; Cottney et al., 1990; Ferroni et al., 1991; Lee and Allen, 1991; Beier et al., 1992). These drugs appear to augment contractility independently of cAMP or calcium, and thus may have fewer of the adverse side effects seen with other currently available agents (Katz, 1986; Paeker 1989). The clinical utility of 'calcium-sensitizers' has been questioned on the theoretical grounds that such agents may interfere with relaxation and impair diastolic function (Hajjar and Gwathmey, 1991). Previous studies have shown a small but significant negative lusitropic effect of the calcium sensitizer EMD 53998 in ferret papillary musele, although this effect was considered to be outweighed by powerful augmentation of contractility. Modelling studies have suggested that the impairment of relaxation by calcium-sensitizers may be even more severe when myocardial calcium is abnormally elevated, such as in hypoxia (Allen and Orchard, 1987; Lodge and Gelband, 1988) and end-stage heart failure (Hajjar and Gwathmey, 1991). We have examined the effects of EMD 53998 and milrinone on contractility and calcium flux in a cell culture model of myocardial hypoxia. The results indicate that increased calcium sensitivity results in marked impairment of relaxation under hypoxic conditions, possibly due to the impaired calcium sequestration and increased calcium availability exhibited by hypoxic myocytes. These studies show that the effects of calcium sensitizers can be strongly influenced by the prevailing status of intracellular calcium handling, and may be deleterious in the diseased or ischemic myocardium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine