Calcium sensitizers may influence myocardial energetics by their action on calcium turnover and on crossbridge behavior. Using a myothermal method, the effects of the Ca2 + sensitizer EMD-53998 on calcium cycling, crossbridge behavior, and myocardial energy turnover were compared with the effects of an increase in extracellular calcium from 1.25 to 7.5 mM with the effects of the catecholamine isoproterenol. All three inotropic interventions increased isometric force development in right ventricular rabbit papillary muscles. Relaxation time was decreased with isoproterenol, unchanged with high calcium, and increased with EMD 53998. Calcium cycling-related energy consumption, as measured by tension-independent heat, increased by 234% with high calcium, by 439% with isoproterenol, and by 77% with EMD 53998. In contrast to high calcium and isoproterenol, EMD 53998 increased economy of crossbridge cycling by increasing the force-time integral of the individual crossbridge cycle. The data indicate that EMD 53998 acts by phosphodiesterase inhibition and myofilament calcium sensitization. The latter effect is in part mediated by alteration of crossbridge behavior. Because
of its effects on calcium cycling and crossbridge function myocardial energy turnover was reduced significantly with EMD 53998, whereas energy turnover was unchanged with high calcium and was increased with isoproterenol. The new calcium sensitizer levosimendan was investigated in isolated tailing human myocardium. Levosimendan dose-dependently increased isometric tension. The inotropic effect was associated with increased rate of relaxation and reduced relaxation time. Measurements of intracellular calcium using the photoprotein aequorin suggest that levosimendan acts by increasing myofilament calcium sensitivity and by increasing cAMP due to phosphodiesterase inhibition. However, the contribution of the cAMP system to the action of levosimendan appears to be rather small. Therefore, the finding of a positive lusitropic effect of levosimendan may be consistent with the notion that levosimendan binds to troponin-C and increases calcium sensitivity only at high (systolic) intracellular calcium concentrations.
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