Mechanisms Underlying Electro-Mechanical Cardiac Alternans

  • Blas Echebarria
  • Enric Alvarez-Lacalle
  • Inma R. Cantalapiedra
  • Angelina Peñaranda
Part of the SEMA SIMAI Springer Series book series (SEMA SIMAI, volume 7)


Electro-mechanical cardiac alternans consists in beat-to-beat changes in the strength of cardiac contraction. Despite its important role in cardiac arrhythmogenesis, its molecular origin is not well understood. The appearance of calcium alternans has often been associated to fluctuations in the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium level (SR Ca load). However, cytosolic calcium alternans observed without concurrent oscillations in the SR Ca content suggests an alternative mechanism related to a dysfunction in the dynamics of the ryanodine receptor (RyR2). In this chapter we review recent results regarding the relative role of SR Ca content fluctuations and SR refractoriness for the appearance of alternans in both ventricular and atrial cells.


Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Transient Atrial Cell Ventricular Cell Calcium Load 



B.E., I.R.C., A.P. and E.A-L. would like to acknowledge financial support from MICINN (Spain) through coordinated projects FIS2011-28820-C02-01 and SAF2014-58286-C2-2-R. We would like to thank L. Hove-Madsen, Y. Shiferaw and C. Lugo for fruitful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blas Echebarria
    • 1
  • Enric Alvarez-Lacalle
    • 1
  • Inma R. Cantalapiedra
    • 1
  • Angelina Peñaranda
    • 1
  1. 1.Departament de FísicaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain

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