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Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology

Studying dyadic structure–function relationships: a review of current modeling approaches and new insights into Ca (mis)handling

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Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology 2017:11 1179546817698602

Review

Published on 12 Apr 2017

DOI: 10.1177/1179546817698602


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Abstract

Excitation–contraction coupling in cardiac myocytes requires calcium influx through L-type calcium channels in the sarcolemma, which gates calcium release through sarcoplasmic reticulum ryanodine receptors in a process known as calcium-induced calcium release, producing a myoplasmic calcium transient and enabling cardiomyocyte contraction. The spatio-temporal dynamics of calcium release, buffering, and reuptake into the sarcoplasmic reticulum play a central role in excitation–contraction coupling in both normal and diseased cardiac myocytes. However, further quantitative understanding of these cells’ calcium machinery and the study of mechanisms that underlie both normal cardiac function and calcium-dependent etiologies in heart disease requires accurate knowledge of cardiac ultrastructure, protein distribution and subcellular function. As current imaging techniques are limited in spatial resolution, limiting insight into changes in calcium handling, computational models of excitation–contraction coupling have been increasingly employed to probe these structure–function relationships. This review will focus on the development of structural models of cardiac calcium dynamics at the subcellular level, orienting the reader broadly towards the development of models of subcellular calcium handling in cardiomyocytes. Specific focus will be given to progress in recent years in terms of multi-scale modeling employing resolved spatial models of subcellular calcium machinery. A review of the state-of-the-art will be followed by a review of emergent insights into calcium-dependent etiologies in heart disease and, finally, we will offer a perspective on future directions for related computational modeling and simulation efforts.



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