Heart and Circulatory Physiology

Measurement of mitochondrial free Ca2+ concentration in living single rat cardiac myocytes

H. Miyata, H. S. Silverman, S. J. Sollott, E. G. Lakatta, M. D. Stern, R. G. Hansford


A technique that allows the continuous measurement of mitochondrial free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]m) in a single living cardiac myocyte is described. It involves the introduction of the fluorescent chelating agent indo-1 into the cell by exposure to the acetoxymethyl ester, followed by selective quenching of the fluorescence of indo-1 in the cytosol by Mn2+. The identity of the remaining fluorescence due to intramitochondrial indo-1 is established by its resistance to treatment of the cell with digitonin at concentrations that release cytosolic but not mitochondrial enzymes and by the finding that ruthenium red and carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone prevent its response to elevated cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]c). [Ca2+]m is found to be low (less than 100 nM) in unstimulated cells and to rise in procedures that chronically elevate [Ca2+]c, such as Na+ replacement. The gradient [Ca2+]m/[Ca2+]c is less than unity at values of [Ca2+]c of less than 500 nM but rapidly increases at higher values of [Ca2+]c. Although there is no detectable increase in [Ca2+]m during a single electrical stimulation, [Ca2+]m increases up to 600 nM as the pacing frequency is raised to 4 Hz in the presence of norepinephrine; this increase occurs over the course of many contractions. It is concluded that these findings are consistent with an increase in [Ca2+]m acting as a signal to increase dehydrogenase activity, and hence flux through oxidative phosphorylation, in response to increased work loads.