Potentiation of potassium-evoked noradrenaline and neuropeptide Y co-release by cardiac energy depletion: role of calcium channels and sodium-proton exchange

Markus Haass, Gert Richardt, Albert Schömig

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The role of the cardiac energy status in the potassium-evoked exocytosis of both noradrenaline and the sympathetic co-transmitter neuropeptide Y (NPY) was investigated in the guinea-pig perfused heart. The transmitter release was stimulated by potassium depolarization (10–80 mmol/l) during normoxic perfusion (pO2 > 100 mmHg) in the presence of glucose (11 mmol/l) and at various periods (5–40 min) of cardiac energy depletion. Energy depletion was induced either by anoxia (pO2 < 5 mmHg) or by cyanide intoxication (1 mmol/l), both in combination with glucose-free perfusion. Endogenous noradrenaline and NPY were determined in the coronary venous overflow by high-pressure liquid chromatography combined with electrochemical detection and by radioimmunoassay, respectively. Under normoxic conditions potassium depolarization evoked a co-release of both transmitters [molar ratio 862 (noradrenaline) :1 (NPY)] at a threshold concentration of 40 mmol/l potassium. This transmitter overflow was characterized by its dependence on extracellular calcium and calcium influx through voltage-dependent neuronal calcium channels of the N-type. Cardiac energy depletion was accompanied by an acceleration and an enhancement of the potassium-evoked transmitter overflow. In comparison to normoxia, a 10-fold increased transmitter overflow with a comparable molar ratio [709 noradrenaline :1 (NPY)] was evoked by 40 mmol/l potassium after 10 min of either anoxia or cyanide intoxication. This sensitization to potassium depolarization reached a peak after 10 min of energy depletion and was characterized by a markedly reduced threshold concentration (10 mmol/l potassium). The enhanced sympathetic transmitter overflow in anoxia was suppressed by addition of glucose (11 mmol/l) to the perfusion buffer, suggesting that the sensitization of the overflow of noradrenaline and NPY to potassium depolarization requires a cessation of energy metabolism. The sensitization of the potassium-evoked (20 mmol/l) sympathetic transmitter overflow by energy depletion was further characterized: Consistent with an exocytotic release mechanism, the overflow was calcium-dependent. In contrast to normoxia, however, blockade of neuronal N-type calcium channels by either co-conotoxin (100 nmol/1) or cadmium chloride (50 μmol/l) failed to reduce the potassium-evoked overflow of noradrenaline and NPY. In anoxia blockade of sodium-proton exchange by amiloride (1 mmol/l) or more specifically by ethylisopropylamiloride (1 μmol/l) markedly attenuated the potassium-evoked transmitter overflow. Likewise, suppression of the potassium-evoked overflow of noradrenaline and NPY from the energy-depleted heart was achieved by extracellular acidosis (pH 6.0). In contrast, during normoxia blockade of sodium-proton exchange by either ethylisopropylamiloride (1 μmol/l) or by extracellular acidosis (pH 6.0) did not affect the potassium-evoked (80 mmol/l) transmitter overflow. These findings suggest that the sensitization of sympathetic nerve endings to potassium depolarization, caused by cardiac energy depletion, requires sodium entry into the sympathetic nerve ending via sodium-proton exchange. The results of the present study indicate, that the threshold concentration for the potassium-evoked exocytotic release of noradrenaline and NPY from the guinea-pig isolated perfused heart is intimately coupled to the energy status of cardiac sympathetic nerve fibres. The energy status not only determines the quantity of the transmitters released but also the mode of sodium and calcium entry triggering the depolarization-evoked transmitter overflow. Preliminary findings were reported at the 63rd Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, Dallas/USA (Haass et al., 1990b) and at the Annual Meeting of the European Section of the International Society for Heart Research, Leuwen/Belgium (Haass et al. 1991b)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-418
Number of pages9
JournalNaunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Energy requirements
  • Neuropeptide Y release
  • Noradrenaline release
  • Potassium depolarization
  • Sodium-proton exchange


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