The morphology of the cardiac transverse-axial tubular system (TATS) has been known for decades, but its function has received little attention. To explore the possible role of this system in the physiological modulation of electrical and contractile activity, we have developed a mathematical model of rat ventricular cardiomyocytes in which the TATS is described as a single compartment. The geometrical characteristics of the TATS, the biophysical characteristics of ion transporters and their distribution between surface and tubular membranes were based on available experimental data. Biophysically realistic values of mean access resistance to the tubular lumen and time constants for ion exchange with the bulk extracellular solution were included. The fraction of membrane in the TATS was set to 56%. The action potentials initiated in current-clamp mode are accompanied by transient K+ accumulation and transient Ca2+ depletion in the TATS lumen. The amplitude of these changes relative to external ion concentrations was studied at steady-state stimulation frequencies of 1–5 Hz. Ca2+ depletion increased from 7 to 13.1% with stimulation frequency, while K+ accumulation decreased from 4.1 to 2.7%. These ionic changes (particularly Ca2+ depletion) implicated significant decrease of intracellular Ca2+ load at frequencies natural for rat heart.
One contribution of 13 to a Theme Issue ‘Biomathematical modelling I’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society