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Extra- and intracellular lanthanum: modified calcium distribution, inward currents and contractility in guinea pig ventricular preparations


  1. 1.

    In guinea pig ventricular strips and isolated cells, 0.1 mM LaCl3 blocks contractility and shortens the action potential (AP) in less than 2 min (“early La-effect”). After 30 min, it prolongs the APs which trigger slow contractions (“late La-effect”). These results confirm earlier reports.

  2. 2.

    X-ray microprobe analysis shows that La initially displaces only a small fraction of that Ca which is superficially bound to the sarcolemma. But, since this Ca is completely removed by Ca-free solutions within 2 min, we suggest that La blocks contractility not by displacing superficial Ca but by blocking the Ca inward currenti Ca. Blocking ofi Ca is analyzed with voltage clamp experiments. It is not La-specific, and can also be observed with other calcium channel blockers as well. Wheni Ca has been blocked, the membrane can still generate 100–200 ms long plateaus via the sodium inward currenti Na.

  3. 3.

    During the late La-effect, the cells internalize La. Intracellular La is detected by x-ray microprobe analysis in cryosections of frozen muscles and as La-precipitates in EM images from freeze substituted preparations. Simultaneously, the cytosol gains Na and Ca, but the plasmalemmal and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) membranes are no longer occupied by Ca but by La. The late La-effect on the prolongation of the AP is La-specific. In the absence of extracellular La, it can be induced by pressure injection of La into the cytosol. The long APs are based on an additional inward current which is insensitive to Ca-removal, is inactivated by holding potentials of −40 mV, and is TTX-sensitive. We suggest that the current flows through a fraction of original Na-channels that is modified by i.c. La with respect to inactivation and selectivity.

  4. 4.

    We attribute the late re-occurrence of contractility to activator Ca entering from the bath. Ca-entry might be mediated via enhanced Na/Ca-exchange whose rate is increased by the i.c. Na-load. In addition, Ca may enter through the La-modified Na-channels due to their impaired selectivity. Since i.c. La is known to interfere with the Ca-sequestration by the SR, it is expected to impair relaxation.

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Correspondence to Maria Fiora Wendt-Gallitelli.

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Wendt-Gallitelli, M.F., Isenberg, G. Extra- and intracellular lanthanum: modified calcium distribution, inward currents and contractility in guinea pig ventricular preparations. Pflugers Arch. 405, 310–322 (1985).

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Key words

  • Lanthanum
  • X-ray microanalysis
  • Ca-distribution
  • Ca-current
  • Na-current