Spread and modulation of electrical activity in cardiac tissue requires intercellular transfer of current via gap junctions, specialised regions of densely packed ionic channels. Electrotonic interaction is determined not merely by intercellular electrical resistance (Rj) but rather by the interplay of Rj and sarcolemmal passive and active electrical properties (Zaniboni et al., Spitzer et al.). In this work we combined a well established protocol to measure Rj in cell pairs (Weingart e Maurer) with a stimulation protocol which allowed to simultaneously study parameters relative to action potential transfer during sequential stimulation. Current clamp experiments, performed on cardiomyocyte pairs held in double-patch configuration, allowed to simultaneously monitor, at a relatively high frequency (1 Hz), membrane resistance (Rm), resting potential (Vm), maximum depolarization rate (dv/dtmax) and time to peak of dv/dtmax in both cells as well as Rj. Spontaneous electrical uncoupling was observed in guinea pig cell pairs with little or no effect on action potential transfer. Pharmacological uncoupling with 40 μM β-glycyrrhetinic acid reached, in one case, a much higher level of Rj and dramatically increased time delay for action potential appearance. When only Rj was measured over a short time interval after approximately two minutes from cell-attachments, values of Rj ∼ 40 MΩ in rat cell pairs (n=20) and Rj ∼ 15 MΩ in guinea pig cell pairs (n=24) were obtained. The possibility of monitoring simultaneously active and intercellular/cellular passive electrical properties makes this protocol particularly suitable to study dynamic changes in Rj during action potential transfer.
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