Here, we describe a protocol for the reliable measurement of the amount of Ca(2+) in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) store of cardiac myocytes. The whole-cell patch-clamp method is used to provide controlled loading of the SR during conditioning depolarizing pulses, followed by rapid application of a high dose of caffeine to release all SR Ca(2+) and to prevent Ca(2+) reuptake by the SR. Simultaneous measurement of membrane currents records Ca(2+) extruded through the Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger. The integral of the caffeine-induced Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchange current is then used as a measure of the SR Ca(2+). Derived measurements include the Ca(2+) buffering capacity and measurement of fractional release as an indicator of coupling gain. Caveats, advantages, and disadvantages of this method and alternative methods are discussed.
- Myocytes, Cardiac/metabolism
- Patch-Clamp Techniques/methods
- Sarcoplasmic Reticulum/metabolism